Methodological issues in male caregiver research: an integrative review of the literature


Susan Crocker Houde,
Department of Nursing,
University of Massachusetts Lowell,
3 Solomont Way Suite 2, Lowell,
MA 01854,


Purpose of the paper.  The purpose of this integrative review of the literature is to identify sampling and analysis issues related to gender in caregiver research in the nursing and health literature.

Background.  Men provide approximately 28% of the care in the home to functionally impaired elders in the United States of America (USA), and because of demographic predictions are expected to provide more in the future. Social science research related to male caregivers has been criticized as having many limitations. A critical review of the nursing and health literature would be helpful to nursing researchers and clinicians by identifying limitations in caregiving research related to gender and providing direction for future research.

Methods.  A literature search using the CINAHL database and the terms ‘family caregiver’, ‘dementia’, and ‘male’ was conducted. Thirty-six articles were retrieved, reviewed, and abstracted.

Findings.  Thirteen articles were qualitative studies, 22 were quantitative, and one had both qualitative and quantitative components. Many of the studies used small samples, and no analysis was included by gender. Most of the samples were convenience samples, with many being self-selected. There was also a lack of analysis of data by family relationship. No qualitative studies and only nine of the quantitative studies included analysis of the data by gender. Studies that reported by gender were all cross-sectional.

Conclusions.  There is a need for caregiver research that has larger samples of males, and includes analysis by gender and family relationship. There is also a need for more intervention studies that are well controlled, and evaluate the effect of the intervention on both male and female caregivers.