Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Results of a Pilot Study to Improve Health Status

Monday, 7 July 2008: 1:15 PM
Susan J. Kelley, PhD, FAAN , College of Health and Human Sciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Deborah Whitley, MPH, PhD , School of Social Work, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Peter Campos, PhD , Project Healthy Grandparents, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

Learning Objective 1: describe health related issues associated with raising grandchilden

Learning Objective 2: discuss the results of a home based nursing intervention designed to improve the physical and emotional well being of grandparents raising grandchildren

During the past few decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children raised by grandparents in the U.S., Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. A body of research indicates that raising grandchildren is associated with negative impact on physical and psychological well-being. This pilot study sought to determine the effectiveness of a home-based nursing intervention on the health and psychological distress of grandparents raising grandchildren.

The sample was comprised of 80, predominantly low income, African American women with a mean age of 56.5 years, who were raising one or more grandchildren in parent-absent homes. Participants received services for one year and were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group 1 participants received monthly home visits by social workers and access to support groups. In addition to these services, Group 2 participants received monthly home visits by registered nurses that included health assessments and interventions. Both groups received services for one year. Participants completed the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and Short Health Survey (SF-36) at pretest and again after 12 months of participation in the program. It was hypothesized that participants in Group 2 (nursing intervention) would have greater improvements in health outcomes at post-test compared to Group 1 (no nursing).

At base line, there were no significant differences in groups on demographic or dependent variables. Although both groups reported decreased psychological distress as measured by the BSI (p< .05) at 12 months, results of repeated measures ANOVA indicated no significant differences in distress scores by group at posttest. In regard to health scores, there were no significant group differences or changes from pre- to post-test.

The implications of these findings, including cost effectiveness of home visitations by nurses for grandparents raising grandchildren will be discussed. Directions for future research will also be presented.