Quality of Life Research

, Volume 28, Issue 11, pp 2969–2978 | Cite as

The moderating role of age in the relationship between different stressors and the quality of life of the relatives of people with intellectual disabilities

  • Lucía OñateEmail author
  • Esther Calvete



The level of support needed for adaptive functioning and behavioral problems of individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) can be a source of stress for caregivers. The aim of this study was to explore the moderating role of caregivers’ age on the associations between these stressors and quality of life (QoL) of the family caregivers. As these sources of stress in people with ID can coexist, the triple interaction between stressors and age was also examined.


208 relatives (mean age = 50.98 years, SD = 12.86) of people with ID participated in the research. Participants answered a questionnaire with sociodemographic variables, measures of stressors (level of support for adaptive functioning of the people with ID and behavioral problems) and measures of QoL (WHOQOL-BREF).


The association between the level of support needed for adaptive functioning and lower QoL was only significant among older relatives, whereas the association between behavioral problems and lower QoL was only significant among younger relatives. A three-way interaction between behavioral problems, level of support needed, and age indicated that the association between the level of support for adaptive functioning and QoL in older relatives was greater when there were higher levels of behavioral problems.


The role of caregivers’ age in their QoL differs depending on the nature of the stressor, and an accumulation of stressors can have a particularly negative impact on older caregivers. Interventions should be adapted for caregivers of different ages and take into account the particular sources of stress they have to cope with.


Intellectual disabilities Aging caregivers Relatives Adaptive functioning Behavioral problems Quality of life 



This research was funded by the Basque Country Government (Ref. PRE_2017_2_0063 and Ref. IT982-16). The authors thank the caregivers and associations that gave up their time to take part in this study (GAUDE, GORABIDE, ASBIBE school, ADICAS, AMICA, ApoyoDravet, Fundación Síndrome de Down Bizkaia, ASPANIAS and others).


This research was funded by Basque Government (Ref.PRE_2017_2_0063 and Ref.IT982-16).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

All participants were informed and gave their consent before participating in the study.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Personality, Psychological Assessment and TreatmentUniversity of DeustoBilbaoSpain

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