Investigating Impacts Of Caregiving On Cognitive Function: Role Of Social Support

TitleInvestigating Impacts Of Caregiving On Cognitive Function: Role Of Social Support
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsTian, L
Academic DepartmentMedical sociology
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages129
UniversityThe University of Alabama at Birmingham
Keywordscognitive function, Older Adults, Social Support

Study Aim: Using the stress process model as a framework, this dissertation aims to
investigate the role of social support on the influence of informal caregiving on cognitive
function of caregivers aged 50 years and older and to look at potential gender and racial
differences in this association.
Method: Leveraging data from the 2016 to 2020 waves of the Health and Retirement
Study (HRS), this research employs Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression analysis to
examine the influence of caregiving on the cognitive function of older adults. To
comprehensively understand the pathways through which caregiving impacts cognitive
outcomes, I use mediation analysis to assess the intervening role of social support.
Further, the study explores the conditional effects of gender and race on the caregivingcognitive function nexus through moderation analysis and extends this inquiry to
examine moderated mediation.
Results and Conclusion: The findings reveal that caregiving has a protective effect on
cognitive function. It found no gender-based disparities in cognitive function among
older adult caregivers. Racial differences were observed, with Hispanic and Other
caregivers exhibiting lower cognitive function than their counterparts, a disparity not
evident among White and Black older adults. The study also found that social support
does not mediate the relationship between caregiving and cognitive function. Instead, an
increase in the number of close social ties associated with caregiving positively impacts
cognitive function. Furthermore, the influence of social support or the quantity of close
social ties on cognitive function is not moderated by gender or race.

Citation Key13967