Informal care: choice or constraint?

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  • University of Bradford


Background: ‘Choice’ is increasingly pursued as a goal of social policy. However the degree to which choice is exercised when entering an informal caring role is open to debate.
Aim: In this study, we examined the degree of choice and constraint in entering a caring role, and the relationship between choice and carers’ wellbeing.
Methods: Data were derived from 1100 responses to a postal survey conducted in a British City. Statistical tests of association and multivariable regression modelling were applied to study the factors associated with choice in entering a caring role and the association that choice in entering a caring role had with carers’ wellbeing.
Results: We found that informal care was generally perceived to be a free choice, albeit in most cases, a choice that was also constrained by duty, financial or social resources. Having a sense of free choice in entering care was strongly and positively associated with the carer’s wellbeing.
Conclusion: The study findings are consistent with a view that enabling individuals to have more choice in their caring roles may be beneficial.


Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Early online date12 Apr 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2017


  • informal care, choice, motivation, wellbeing, quality of life, survey