Family stigma and caregiver burden in Alzheimer's disease

Gerontologist. 2012 Feb;52(1):89-97. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnr117. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Purpose: The stigma experienced by the family members of an individual with a stigmatized illness is defined by 3 dimensions: caregiver stigma, lay public stigma, and structural stigma. Research in the area of mental illness suggests that caregivers' perception of stigma is associated with increased burden. However, the effect of stigma on caregiver burden among those caring for a relative with Alzheimer's disease (AD) has yet to undergo theoretical and empirical testing. The aim of this study was to examine whether family stigma is a predictor of caregiver burden in the case of Alzheimer's disease.

Design and methods: Structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 185 adult child caregivers (75% female; mean age = 53 years) for persons with Alzheimer's disease.

Results: Caregiver stigma variables improved the prediction of caregiver burden by adding an additional 18% to the explained variance over and above the other covariates. The 2 caregiver stigma variables of shame and decreased involvement with caregiving were found to be the major contributing factors.

Implications: Our findings show that caregiver stigma increases caregiver burden in the case of Alzheimer's disease. Using this knowledge, psychosocial interventions should target stigmatic beliefs in order to reduce caregiver burden.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Family / psychology*
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Perception*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Stereotyping*