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Keywords:

  • Grandmothers raising grandchildren;
  • grandparents raising grandchildren;
  • caregiver burden;
  • child maltreatment;
  • kinship care;
  • foster care

Abstract

Purpose: To examine the impact of an intervention to improve the health of grandmothers raising grandchildren in parent-absent homes.

Design: A longitudinal, pretest-posttest design.

Methods: The sample was composed of 529 female caregivers with a mean age of 56.7 years (range 38–83) who were predominantly low-income African Americans. Data were collected prior to the intervention and again at 12 months when the intervention was complete. The intervention involved home visitation by registered nurses and social workers, as well as other support services. The Short Form-36 was used to assess physical and mental health, using eight multi-item scales.

Results: A comparison of pre- and posttest mean scores on the SF-36 indicated significantly (p < .003) improved mean scores for vitality, physical effects on role functioning, emotional effects on role functioning, and mental health. No significant differences were found for other attributes.

Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest that grandmothers raising grandchildren may benefit from a home-based intervention designed to improve health attributes. Implications for nursing practice, policy, and research are presented.

Clinical Relevance: The health of grandmother caregivers is critical to their ability to parent grandchildren successfully. Nurses practicing in a variety of settings are in a unique position to identify and address the health challenges of grandmothers who are raising grandchildren.