Data source and definitions

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Data source

General Social Survey (2012): The 2012 General Social Survey (GSS) was conducted on a sample of 23,093 people. This study focuses on the 9,304 respondents who were family caregivers (primarily the 9,190 respondents who reported the nature of the relationship between them and the main person to whom they had provided care during the year).


Family caregivers: People aged 15 and over who responded that, in the previous 12 months, they had either a) provided help or care to a person with a long-term health problem or a physical or mental disability or b) provided help or care to a person with aging-related problems.

This help could take various forms: transportation to go shopping; meal preparation or housework; assistance with outdoor work; help with personal care (taking a bath, getting dressed, using the toilet, etc.); medical care (changing dressings or taking medications); organization or planning of care; and management of the care recipient’s finances. People who reported that they had cared for a person but not engaged in any of these activities are not considered family caregivers.

Type of caregiver (according to primary care receiver): Family caregivers are categorized according to the nature of their relationship to the primary person for whom they cared in the previous 12 months. This is because a family caregiver could, for example, have primarily cared for his or her spouse but also cared for a parent during the year.

Regular caregivers: Family caregivers who provided 2 or more hours of care per week to a person with a chronic health problem. In the GSS, such people were only asked about the various consequences (psychological, health-related, work-related and financial) they experienced as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.

Expenses incurred as a caregiver: In the 2012 General Social Survey, family caregivers were asked whether they had incurred various expenses as a result of all their caregiving responsibilities. They were told that these were to be expenses that were not reimbursed. Respondents were asked to report only additional costs associated with caregiving responsibilities and not usual costs, for example, those related to sharing the same dwelling.

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