Perceived life balance among young adult students: a comparison between caregivers and non-caregivers

Srishti Dang*, Anne Looijmans, Giovanni Lamura, Mariët Hagedoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Young adult caregivers (YACs) are individuals aged 18–25 years who provide care to a loved one (parent, sibling) with frailty, disability, or illness. As young adults, the transition period between adolescence and adulthood can be more challenging for YACs than their peers without care responsibilities (non-YACs), as they have to integrate caregiving with other life areas (education, relationships). This study compared the perceived life balance and the psychological functioning (i.e., burnout, negative and positive affect, and life satisfaction) between YACs and non-YACs. 

Method: An online cross-sectional survey was conducted among 74 YACs (85.1% females, 22.0 ± 2.1 years) and 246 non-YACs (76.0% females, 21.8 ± 2.0 years) studying in the Netherlands. The survey assessed demographic characteristics, caregiving characteristics (to be filled out only by the YACs), life balance, and psychological functioning. We used Chi-square tests for categorical variables and independent T-tests for continuous variables to examine possible differences in demographic characteristics between YACs and non-YACs. In addition, we used independent T-tests to compare the perceived life balance and psychological functioning between YACs and non-YACs. 

Results: YACs and non-YACs were similar on all the demographic characteristics, except for living status; fewer YACs (44.6%) than non-YACs (59.3%) lived on their own, with or without other students/friends (χ 2 = 16.3, p = 0.01). YACs perceived slightly less balance in life than non-YACs (d = -.29, p =.03). Both groups did not differ in experiencing burnout, affect, and life satisfaction (all p >.05). They experienced high levels of burnout and moderate levels of life satisfaction. 

Discussion: Although YACs perceived a little less balance in life than non-YACs, this was not reflected in their psychological functioning. Healthcare professionals and school counselors may need to recognise the critical phase of all young adults and provide the support that could, for example, help them reduce burnout and enhance their quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2024


  • Informal caregivers
  • Life balance
  • Psychological functions
  • Students
  • Young adults


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