The relationship between self-efficacy and resting blood pressure in spousal Alzheimer's caregivers

Br J Health Psychol. 2011 May;16(Pt 2):317-28. doi: 10.1348/135910710X504932. Epub 2011 Mar 8.


Objective: To examine whether high levels of self-efficacy for problem-focused coping were significantly related to several resting BP measures in spousal Alzheimer's disease caregivers.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Methods: Participants included 100 older caregivers (mean age = 73.8 ± 8.14 years) providing in home care for a spouse with Alzheimer's disease. All participants completed a 13-item short form of the Coping Self-Efficacy Scale and underwent an in-home assessment where a visiting nurse took the average of three serial BP readings. Multiple regression was used to examine the relationship between self-efficacy and mean arterial pressure (MAP), systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), and pulse pressure (PP) after controlling for age, gender, smoking history, body mass index, the care recipient's clinical dementia rating, diabetes, alcohol use, and the use of antihypertensive medications.

Results: Overall, high levels of self-efficacy for problem-focused coping were associated with lower MAP, SBP, and PP. Self-efficacy for problem-focused coping was marginally associated with resting DBP, but not significant. In addition, we conducted secondary analyses of the other two self-efficacy scales to explore the relationship between each dimension and MAP. We found that there were no significant relationships found between MAP and self-efficacy for stopping unpleasant thoughts/emotions or self-efficacy for getting social support.

Conclusions: The present study adds to the current body of literature by illustrating the possibility that higher self-efficacy can have physiological advantages, perhaps by buffering chronic stress's impact on resting BP. Another contribution of the current study is its attempt to understand the role of each individual component of self-efficacy. These findings invite future research to investigate whether caregivers might experience cardiovascular benefits from interventions aimed at enhancing self-efficacy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Caregivers*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rest / physiology*
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States