Objectives: Despite growing concerns about the heavy reliance on supplementary grandchild care in Korea, understanding of its longitudinal effects on the grandparents’ mental health has been limited. This study examined whether transition patterns of grandchild care among Korean grandparents were associated with changes in the grandparents’ depressive symptoms, directly or indirectly, through changes in two domains of social integration (intergenerational contact and social activities) after controlling for socioeconomic characteristics and baseline levels of depressive symptoms and social integration. Method: Using the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (N = 4,362), a nationally representative multiwave survey, we examined four possible statuses of grandchild care over a three-year period: started (n = 64), continuous (n = 73), and discontinued (n = 103) caregiving, and non-caregiving (n = 4,121). The proposed mediation model was analyzed using structural equation modeling with non-caregivers as a reference group, and Wald tests were conducted to further examine differences in the effects across the three caregiving groups. Results: The direct effects of grandchild care on depressive symptoms in Korean grandparents were not significant. Rather, those who started or continuously provided caregiving had significantly reduced depressive symptoms via increased intergenerational contact compared to the non-caregiving group. Conclusion: These findings indicated beneficial effects of grandchild care on depressive symptoms in Korean grandparents through increased social integration within the family. Implications of the study findings were discussed.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Phychiatric Mental Health
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Psychiatry and Mental health