Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Document Type



With increasing numbers of Americans engaged in unpaid, informal caregiving for adults over the age of 18, there is a need for research that investigates caregivers’ experiences, with particular emphasis on their health and well being. This is the first known study to examine the experiences of social workers, engaged in direct practice, who are also managing responsibilities related to informal caregiving. The study examined interrelationships among social workers’ caregiving characteristics, burden of caregiving, depressive symptomology, physical health, self-care, life satisfaction and social support. Hypotheses included: (1) Burden of caregiving is positively correlated with depressive symptomology. (2) The burden of caregiving is negatively correlated with physical health, self-care and life satisfaction. (3) Amongst social workers with additive caregiving characteristics, social support is positively correlated with both self-care and life satisfaction. Gender differences were examined ad hoc. An anonymous Internet-based survey instrument was distributed to 1,869 Licensed Clinical Social Workers working in a southern state. Among 657 respondents, 120 were unpaid caregivers and comprised the final study sample. Study sample participants were primarily middle-aged Caucasian women who had an average of 23.5 years of social work experience. Over half of all respondents provided informal care for a parent, while others reported caregiving for adult children, relatives, spouses, or friends. The majority of participants devoted fewer than 20 hours per week to caregiving in their own home, the care recipient’s home, or another setting. Results showed that the burden of caregiving was significantly and negatively associated with participants’ self-perceived health. Intercorrelations emerged among social support, self-care, and life-satisfaction. Results also showed significant gender differences in the practice of self-care, specifically female social workers engaged in self-care more regularly than male social workers. The current study may inform practice by providing social workers and their employers with greater insight regarding issues related to training and supervision, and has the potential to positively impact agency policies that are responsive to high-risk employees, such as those engaged in informal caregiving.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Lemieux, Catherine



Included in

Social Work Commons