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Caregiving is time-consuming and many caregivers worldwide are overburdened and time-stressed. Interventions to improve child nutrition and family well-being often require the time of caregivers—to participate and to practice recommended behaviors. It’s essential to consider whether caregivers have (and perceive that they have) sufficient time to respond to interventions, and to avoid adding to caregivers’ time burden in ways that can negatively affect caregiver well-being and ability to provide nurturing care.

As well as actual time demands or workload, time sufficiency involves caregivers’ perceptions of time availability and this is rarely measured in child nutrition research and programs. Only one direct measure of this construct was identified, measuring “time stress” or the inverse of time sufficiency.

Measurement of time use or workload is more common, often using recall methods with extensive interviews about the previous day or longer periods, and is thus subject to recall bias. Two measures described here assess time use, and one also includes satisfaction with available leisure time. For time diaries or recall measures, there is neither a set number of items nor a way to assess internal reliability (Cronbach’s alpha), so information on those aspects is not available.

In many contexts, caregivers perform caregiving activities simultaneously with other domestic and productive activities, so the caregiving is perceived as a secondary activity and may not be reported. Real-time observation is another approach and while this avoids recall bias, it is not feasible to observe large samples that would permit generalization and daylong observation can be invasive. Finally, all measures of time use are impacted by daily and seasonal variation in how time is spent.

Types of Measures

Time sufficiency questionnaire

  • Perceived Time Stress (5 items)

Time use/workload questionnaires

  • Time Allocation Module from Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI)
  • Caregiver workload interviews

This toolkit includes 3 measures.

Perceived Time Stress

Zimbabwe 8 items

This is a scale on perceived time stress that was developed as part of a larger survey of maternal capabilities among women participating in research on nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions.

Time Dimension of the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI)

BangladeshNepalTanzaniaZambiaCambodiaGhanaMozambique 2 items

The WEAI is a broad empowerment measure that includes a time dimension with two indicators: time use or workload, and satisfaction with leisure time.

Caregiver Workload Interviews

Chad 1 items

Interviews assessed caregiver workload based on recall over the previous six months. This tool was developed by researchers to ask caregivers to report time spent on domestic tasks, agricultural work, handicrafts, drying vegetables, and leisure.