Associations of combining paid work and family care with gender-specific differences in depressive symptoms among older workers and the role of work characteristics

F. M. Bijnsdorp, Allard J. Van Der Beek, Marjolein Broese Van Groenou, Karin Proper, Swenneke Van den Heuvel, C.R.L. Boot

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives This study aims to provide insight into (i) how the combination of paid work and family care is longitudinally associated with gender-related differences in depressive symptoms and (ii) the role of work characteristics in this association.

Methods Data were derived from STREAM, a Dutch prospective cohort study of older workers aged 45–64 years. Respondents were included if they were employed in at least one measurement between 2015 and 2017 (N=12 447). Mixed-models were applied to disentangle between-person (BP) and within-person (WP) effects of family caregiving on depressive symptoms. Analyses were stratified by gender. Work characteristics (social support, autonomy, emotional and mental workload) were separately added to the multivariable models.

Results For older employees, family caregiving was positively associated with depressive symptoms between and within persons for both women [BP B=0.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.52–1.08; WP B=0.32, 95% CI 0.08–0.56] and men (BP B=0.75, 95% CI 0.45–1.05; WP B=0.25, 95% CI 0.01–0.48). Social support at work reduced the adverse effect of family care on depressive symptoms for women (BP) and men (BP and WP). Emotional workload partly explained the effect of family care for both women and men (BP).

Conclusions The longitudinal association between family care and mental health was similar for male and female employees. Resources at work (ie, social support) could protect caregiving employees against depressive symptoms. More research is needed regarding the relative impact of the care context compared to the work context of working family caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-199
Number of pages10
JournalScandinavian journal of work, environment & health
Issue number3
Early online date7 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Key terms employment
  • The Netherlands
  • gender
  • mental health

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