‘Psychosocial resources contributing to resilience in Austrian young carers- A study using photo novella

Author(s): Martin Matzka and Martin Nagl-Cupal
Publisher: Research in Nursing and Health
Year Published: 2020
Resource type: Peer Reviewed Research Article


Past literature on young carers mostly examined their unique lifestyles and focused on what set them apart of their non-caregiving peers. Many researchers also relied on retrospective accounts, where older people recalled what it was like being a young carer. Presently, there are many studies that emphasize the negative impact of caregiving. Not much research examined resilience or the competencies that young carers have. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess young carers’ psychological resources that they use in their everyday lives. The authors used participatory photograph interviews. In other words, the researchers asked young carers to take pictures of certain aspects of their lives and then talk about them during the interview. A total of 10 young carers (6 boys and 4 girls) participated, ages 9-17 years (with an average age of 13). Results revealed that young carers’ pictures showed two psychological resources: personal and interpersonal. Personal resources included free time and distractions. Young carers reported they valued having leisure time to be able to do whatever they wished. They also really appreciated distractions when stressful situations arose. They reported that sometimes they needed to spend some time alone. They valued school and really liked it because it gave them a place to get distracted from their caregiving responsibilities. On the other side, the interpersonal resources included friendships, support from family, and bonds with ill/disabled family member. All young carers reported to appreciate their friends and the activities they did together. Even more so, they reported the benefits of having other “young carer” friends, who knew what they were going through. Supportive parents were also a key resource; they valued all the support and attention they got from their parents. They reported getting support from other family members (siblings or extended members). Finally, all the young carers reported good relationships with their ill/disabled family members. They focused on the positive and talked about the similarities and common interests that brought them closer. Overall, results indicated that it is likely that young carers with more resources had better chances of adapting to their challenges and hence, becoming more resilient.

Citation: Matzka M, & Nagl-Cupal M. (2020). Psychosocial resources contributing to resilience in Austrian young carers-A study using photo novella. Research in Nursing and Health, 43, 629– 639. https://doi.org/10.1002/nur.22085

Keywords: Photo novella, psychosocial adaptation, psychosocial resources, resilience, young caregivers, young carers

Where the data was collected: Vienna, Austria