Worry and time: The unseen costs of informal care

Tanisha Jowsey*, Lyndall Strazdins, Laurann Yen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives The objective of this study is to examine the experiences of informal carers in terms of how their time spent caring is related to worry. Is worry about a care recipient a care practice, and if so, to what extent it can be understood temporally? Methods Classical phenomenology underpinned this study. Three qualitative studies of people living with chronic illness in Australia were conducted between 2009 and 2013. Semi-structured interviews were conducted. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Phenomenological thematic analysis of the data was undertaken. Results Twenty-five informal carers participated. The findings pivot around three interconnected themes: time, worry and cost. Worry was identified as a temporally bound unseen cost to carers that informs carer identity irrespective of culture, ethnicity, or social status. Discussion Worry is a practice that most carers report engaging in and it is one that comes with a temporal cost - it keeps people busy looking after the needs of others during the day and it keeps some people awake when they would rather be sleeping. Worry takes time and effort, it informs people's construction of their own sense of self, motivates acts of care, and informs carers' imaginings of what their future and that of their loved one(s) may entail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-260
Number of pages12
JournalChronic Illness
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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