Longitudinal analysis of resourcefulness, family strain, and depressive symptoms in grandmother caregivers



      Grandmothers living with grandchildren face stressors that may increase depressive symptoms, but cognitive-behavioral strategies, such as resourcefulness, may reduce the effects of stressors on mental health.


      This analysis examined the contemporaneous and longitudinal relationships among intra-family strain, resourcefulness, and depressive symptoms in 240 grandmothers, classified by caregiving status to grandchildren.


      Grandmothers raising grandchildren, grandmothers living in multigenerational homes, and non-caregivers to grandchildren reported on intra-family strain, resourcefulness, and depressive symptoms using mailed questionnaires at three time points over 5 years. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the mediating effects of resourcefulness and the relationships between variables.


      Grandmother caregiver status had significant effects on depressive symptoms and intra-family strain but not on resourcefulness. At all waves, higher resourcefulness was associated with fewer depressive symptoms, which reduced appraisals of intra-family strain.


      Interventions focused on strengthening resourcefulness could reduce depressive symptoms over time.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Nursing Outlook
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Barnett M.A.
        • Mills-Koonce W.R.
        • Gustafsson H.
        • Cox M.
        Mother-grandmother conflict, negative parenting, and young children's social development in multigenerational families.
        Fam Relations. 2012; 61: 864-877
        • Blustein J.
        • Chan S.
        • Guanais F.C.
        Elevated depressive symptoms among caregiving grandparents.
        Health Serv Res. 2004; 39: 1671-1689
        • Dillman D.
        Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design.
        2nd ed. Wiley, New York2000
        • Emick M.A.
        • Hayslip B.
        Custodial grandparenting: Stresses, coping skills and relationships with grandchildren.
        Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1999; 48: 35-61
        • Fingerman K.L.
        • Gallagher-Thompson D.
        • Lovett S.
        • Rose J.
        Internal resourcefulness, task demands, coping, and dysphoric affect among caregivers of the frail elderly.
        Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1996; 42: 229-248
        • Fuller-Thomson E.
        • Minkler M.
        American grandparents providing extensive child care to their grandchildren: Prevalence and profile.
        Gerontologist. 2001; 41: 201-209
        • Gerard J.M.
        • Landry-Meyer L.
        • Roe J.G.
        Grandparents raising grandchildren: The role of social support in coping with caregiving challenges.
        Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2006; 62: 359-383
        • Gonzalez E.W.
        Resourcefulness, appraisals, and coping efforts of family caregivers.
        Issues Ment Health Nurs. 1997; 8: 209-227
        • Goodman C.C.
        Family dynamics in three-generation families.
        J Fam Issues. 2007; 29: 355-379
        • Hair J.F.
        • Black W.C.
        • Babin B.J.
        • Anderson R.E.
        Multivariate Data Analysis.
        7th Ed. Prentice Hall, New York2009
        • Hammen C.
        • Shih J.H.
        • Brennan P.A.
        Intergenerational transmission of depression: Test of an interpersonal stress model in a community sample.
        J Consulting Clin Psychol. 2004; 72: 511-522
        • Hayslip B.
        • Kaminski P.L.
        Grandparents raising their grandchildren: A review of the literature and suggestions for practice.
        The Gerontologist. 2005; 45: 262-269
        • Hughes M.E.
        • Waite L.J.
        • LaPierre T.A.
        • Luo Y.
        All in the family: The impact of caring for grandchildren on grandparents' health.
        J Gerontol B: Psychol Soc Sci. 2007; 62: S108-S119
        • Intrieri R.C.
        • Rapp S.R.
        Self-control skillfulness and caregiver burden among help-seeking elders.
        Journals Gerontol. 1994; 49: 19-23
        • Joreskog K.
        • Sorbom D.
        LISREL 8* Structural Equation Modeling with the SIMLES Command Language.
        Scientific Software, Lincolnwood, IL1993
        • Kelley S.
        • Whitley D.
        • Sipe T.
        • Crofts Yorker B.
        Psychological distress in grandmother kinship care providers: The role of resources, social support, and physical health.
        Child Abuse Neglect. 2000; 24: 311-321
        • Kelley S.J.
        • Whitley D.
        • Sipe T.A.
        Results of an interdisciplinary intervention to improve the psychosocial well-being and physical functioning of African American grandmothers raising grandchildren.
        J Intergenerational Relationships. 2007; 5: 45-64
        • Kelley S.J.
        • Whitley D.M.
        • Campos P.E.
        Grandmothers raising grandchildren: Results of an intervention to improve health outcomes.
        J Nurs Scholarship. 2010; 42: 379-386
        • Lazarus R.
        • Folkman S.
        Stress, Appraisal and Coping.
        Springer, New York1984
        • Leder S.
        • Grinstead L.N.
        • Torres E.
        Grandparents raising grandchildren: Stressors, social support and health outcomes.
        J Fam Nurs. 2007; 13: 333-352
        • Lockhart G.
        • MacKinnon D.
        • Ohlrich V.
        Mediation analysis in psychosomatic medicine research.
        Psychosomatic Med. 2011; 73: 29-43
        • McCubbin H.I.
        • Thompson A.I.
        • McCubbin M.
        Family Assessment: Resiliency, Coping and Adaptation: Inventories for Research and Practice.
        University of Wisconsin System, Madison, WI1996
        • Musil C.
        • Ahmad M.
        Health of grandmothers: A comparison by caregiver status.
        J Aging Health. 2002; 14: 96-121
        • Musil C.M.
        • Gordon N.L.
        • Warner C.B.
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Standing T.
        • Wykle M.L.
        Grandmothers and caregiving to grandchildren: Continuity, change, and outcomes over 24 months.
        The Gerontologist. 2011; 51: 86-100
        • Musil C.
        • Warner C.
        • Zauszniewski J.
        • Jeanblanc A.
        • Kercher K.
        Grandmothers, caregiving, and family functioning.
        Journals Gerontol Ser B: Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2006; 61: S89-S98
        • Musil C.
        • Warner C.
        • Zauszniewski J.
        • Wykle M.
        • Standing T.
        Grandmother caregiving, family stress and strain and depressive symptoms.
        West J Nurs Res. 2009; 31: 389-408
        • Ngai F.W.
        • Chan S.W.
        Learned resourcefulness, social support, and perinatal depression in Chinese mothers.
        Nurs Res. 2012; 61: 78-85
        • Pearlin L.I.
        • Mullan J.T.
        • Semple S.J.
        • Skaff M.M.
        Caregiving and the stress process: An overview of concepts and their measures.
        The Gerontologist. 1990; 30: 583-594
        • Picot S.
        • Zauszniewski J.
        • Delgado C.
        Cardiovascular responses of African American female caregivers.
        J Black Nurses' Assoc. 1997; 9: 3-21
        • Radloff L.
        A self-report depression scale for research in the general population.
        Appl Psychol Meas. 1977; 1: 385-401
        • Rapp S.R.
        • Shumaker S.
        • Schmidt S.
        • Naughton M.
        • Anderson R.
        Social resourcefulness: Its relationship to social support and wellbeing among caregivers of dementia victims.
        Aging Ment Health. 1998; 2: 40-48
        • Rosenbaum M.
        The role of learned resourcefulness in self-control of health behavior.
        in: Rosenbaum M. Learned Resourcefulness: On Coping Skills, Self-Control, and Adaptive Behavior. Springer, New York1990: 3-30
        • Sands R.G.
        • Goldberg-Glen R.
        • Thornton P.A.
        Factors associated with the positive well-being of grandparents caring for their grandchildren.
        J Gerontological Soc Work. 2005; 45: 65-82
        • Simmons T.
        • Dye J.L.
        Grandparents Living with Grandchildren: 2000.
        U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC2003 (Census Bureau Publication No. C2KBR-31)
        • Standing T.
        • Musil C.
        • Warner C.
        Grandmother’s transitions in caregiving to grandchildren.
        West J Nurs Res. 2007; 29: 613-631
        • Szinovacz M.E.
        • Davey A.
        Effects of retirement and grandchild care on depressive symptoms.
        Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2006; 62: 1-20
        • Thoits P.A.
        Stress, coping and social support processes: Where are we? What’s next?.
        J Health Soc Behav. 1995; 35: 53-79
        • Thoits P.A.
        Stress and health: Major findings and policy implications.
        J Health Soc Behav. 2010; 51: S41-S53
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        Self-help and help-seeking behavior patterns in healthy elders.
        J Holist Nurs. 1996; 14: 223-226
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        Evaluation of a measure of learned resourcefulness for elders.
        J Nurs Meas. 1997; 5: 71-86
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        in: Fitzpatrick J.J. Wallace M. Encyclopedia of Nursing Research. Springer Publishing, New York2005: 256-258
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Au T.Y.
        • Musil C.M.
        Resourcefulness training for grandmothers raising grandchildren: Is there a need?.
        Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2012; 33: 680-686
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Bekhet A.K.
        • Suresky M.J.
        Relationships among perceived burden, depressive cognitions, resourcefulness, and quality of life in female relatives of seriously mentally ill adults.
        Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2009; 30: 142-150
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Chung C.
        Resourcefulness and health practices of diabetic women.
        Res Nurs Health. 2001; 24: 113-121
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Chung C.
        • Krafcik K.
        Social cognitive factors predicting the health of elders.
        West J Nurs Res. 2001; 23: 490-503
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Eggenschwiler K.
        • Preechawong S.
        • Roberts B.L.
        • Morris D.L.
        Effects of teaching resourcefulness skills to elders.
        Aging Ment Health. 2006; 10: 404-412
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Lai C.
        • Tithiphontumrong S.
        Development and testing of the Resourcefulness Scale for older adults.
        J Nurs Meas. 2006; 14: 57-68
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Musil C.M.
        • Au T.Y.
        Resourcefulness training for grandmothers raising grandchildren: Acceptability and feasibility of two methods.
        Issues Ment Health Nursing. 2013; (in press)
        • Zauszniewski J.A.
        • Picot S.J.
        • Roberts B.L.
        • Debanne S.M.
        • Wykle M.L.
        Predictors of resourcefulness in African American women.
        J Aging Health. 2005; 17: 609-633