A review of the psychobiology of dementia caregiving: a focus on resilience factors

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2011 Jun;13(3):219-24. doi: 10.1007/s11920-011-0187-1.


The recent aging trend in the United States has resulted in exponential growth in the number of informal dementia caregivers. Caring for a family member with dementia has been associated with negative health outcomes that are likely related to physiologic changes resulting from stress. However, caregiving is not always associated with health morbidity. In this review, we highlight resilience factors that appear to have a beneficial relationship with health outcomes. Specifically, we highlight 11 studies that examined the relationship of one of three broad resilience domains (personal mastery, self-efficacy, and coping style) to caregiver health outcomes. Our main findings were that higher levels of personal mastery and self-efficacy, and increased use of positive coping strategies appear to have a protective effect on various health outcomes in dementia caregivers. Continued research is warranted to help guide prospective directions for caregiver interventions focusing on increasing caregiver resilience and the corresponding impact on caregiver health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Humans
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology