Self-efficacy buffers the relationship between dementia caregiving stress and circulating concentrations of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;19(1):64-71. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181df4498.


Objective: the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 has been linked with health morbidity, particularly risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential protective role of coping self-efficacy on the relationship between caregiving stress and circulating concentrations of IL-6.

Methods: a total of 62 elderly caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease (mean age: 74 years) were assessed for plasma concentrations of IL-6, caregiving-related overload, and coping self-efficacy. Multiple regression was used to examine the main effects of stress and self-efficacy, as well as the interaction between stress and self-efficacy, in predicting plasma IL-6 after controlling for age, gender, resting blood pressure, and obesity.

Results: there was a significant interaction between stress and self-efficacy in predicting IL-6. Post-hoc examination indicated that when self-efficacy was low, stress was significantly related to IL-6 (β = 0.43). However, when self-efficacy was high, stress was not significantly related to IL-6 (β = -0.10).

Conclusion: caregiving stress in combination with low coping self-efficacy is significantly related to IL-6, a known risk marker for health morbidity, particularly CVD. However, stress was not associated with IL-6 with high self-efficacy. Although limited and preliminary, these results point to a potential protective effect of self-efficacy on caregiver health that can be tested in longitudinal studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Male
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Stress, Psychological / blood*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Interleukin-6