Background: Self-efficacy is the belief that one can perform a specific task or behaviour and is a modifiable attribute which has been shown to influence health behaviours. Few studies have examined the relationship between self-efficacy for dementia-related tasks and symptoms of burden and depression in caregivers.
Methods: Eighty four patient/caregiver dyads with Alzheimer's disease were recruited through a memory clinic. Patient function, cognition and neuropsychiatric symptoms were assessed together with caregiver burden, personality, depressive symptoms, coping strategies and self-efficacy for completing tasks related to dementia care.
Results: 33% (28) of caregivers reported significant depressive symptoms (CES-D ≥ 10). In multivariate analyses, caregiver burden was predicted by self-efficacy for symptom management, neuroticism, patient function and neuropsychiatric symptoms while caregiver depression was predicted by self-efficacy for symptom management, caregiver educational level, neuroticism, emotion-focused coping, dysfunctional coping and patient function. In patients with moderate to severe impairment (MMSE ≤ 20), self-efficacy for symptom management behaved as a mediator between patient neuropsychiatric symptoms and symptoms of burden and depression in caregivers.
Conclusions: Further longitudinal investigation is warranted to determine if self-efficacy might be usefully considered a target in future interventional studies to alleviate symptoms of burden and depression in Alzheimer's caregivers.