Daughters-in-law in Korean caregiving families
Aim. The aim of this study was to examine the emotional and physical health and experiences of daughter-in-law (DIL) caregivers compared with daughter caregivers who care for cognitively and/or functionally impaired older people in Korea.
Background. In Korea, DILs are the predominant caregivers of impaired older people, but little is known about DIL caregivers. A study which explores the emotional and physical health outcomes of DIL caregivers who care for impaired parents-in-law in the sociocultural context of Korea is necessary.
Method. A cross-sectional descriptive correlational study was conducted to examine the emotional and physical health of 93 DIL caregivers compared with 27 daughter caregivers who care for the cognitively and/or functionally impaired older people in Korea. This study hypothesized that DIL caregivers would have poorer emotional and physical health than daughter caregivers and that the type of relationship with the care-recipient is an important predictor of caregivers’ health outcomes. t-tests, chi-square and hierarchical regression analyses were used for hypotheses testing.
Results. Contrary to expectations, this study found that caregivers’ health outcomes were very similar for DILs and daughters in Korean families. The type of relationship was not an important predictor of caregivers’ health outcomes, and neither was the quality of intergenerational relationship. However, Korean DIL and daughter caregivers reported relatively poor emotional and physical health compared to those of Western caregivers in previous studies.
Conclusions. Daughter-in-laws caregivers were not at greater risk group of negative health outcomes than daughter caregivers. However, DIL and daughter caregivers in Korea were a vulnerable group regardless of their relationship with the care-recipient. The cultural norms and social expectations regarding family-centred caregiving in Korea may cause negative health outcomes for Korean caregivers. Further family caregiving studies in the Korean context are recommended.