Objectives: Alzheimer disease (AD) imposes a severe burden on patients and their caregivers. Although there is substantial evidence of the adverse impact of burden, considerably less is known about its specific correlates and potential causes.
Design: The authors use data from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE)-AD study to examine the relationship of burden and depression among AD caregivers to patient and caregiver sociodemographic characteristics, patients' cognitive status, psychiatric and behavioral symptoms, functional abilities, quality of life, and intensity of care provided by caregivers.
Setting: CATIE-AD included outpatients in usual care settings and assessed treatment outcomes during 9 months.
Participants: Data were examined from 421 ambulatory outpatients with a diagnosis of dementia of the Alzheimer type or probable AD with agitation or psychosis.
Measures: The Burden Interview, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Caregiver Distress Scale were used to evaluate caregiver burden.
Results: More severe psychiatric and behavioral problems and decreased patient quality of life, as well as lower functional capability were significantly associated with higher levels of burden and depression among caregivers at baseline. Six-month changes showed that decreased symptoms and improved quality of life were associated with decreased burden and accounted for most of the explained variance in change in burden measures.
Conclusion: Severity of psychiatric symptoms, behavioral disturbances, and patients' quality of life are the main correlates of caregivers' experience burden. Psychosocial and pharmacologic interventions targeting these two aspects of the disorder are likely to not only alleviate patient suffering but also promote caregiver well-being.