Healthy Balance: Women's Unpaid Caregiving

Collaborative research program

The Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women's Health at Dalhousie University, the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and the Women's Health Research Unit at the University of Ottawa provided leadership in the form of an innovative and collaborative program of research to better understand the connections between women's health and well-being, family life and earning a livelihood.

A Healthy Balance: A Community Alliance for Health Research on Women's Unpaid Caregiving brought together more than 25 researchers from universities, the public policy domain, health practitioners, communications professionals and the wider community to examine the ways in which women's work—both as paid workers and unpaid caregivers, affects health.

Program goal and objectives

The ultimate goal of the program was to foster a "healthy balance" between women's health and well-being, family life and earning a livelihood. The interrelated and dynamic program objectives include knowledge generation, knowledge transfer and transformation, uptake of new ideas and practices, and strengthening research capacity.

Specifically, we sought to:

  • examine the relationship among unpaid caregiving work (performed on its own or in combination with paid work), empowerment and health status
  • foster "uptake" of new ideas and practices in policies
  • promote innovation in community programs and health-service delivery that reflects new insights into the values and expectations we bring to caregiving and paid work
  • strengthen research capacity in Atlantic Canada by recruiting and retaining health researchers

Phases of the research program

Both qualitative and quantitative methods represent important components of evidence-based decision making and were employed throughout the four phases of this research program. Qualitative methods, in the form of focus group discussions and case study interviews highlight the complexity and context of individual and group caregiving experiences. Through their application to larger populations, quantitative methods provided greater breadth of data on caregiving variables and outcomes.