Negative caregiving effects among caregivers of veterans with dementia

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2012 Mar;20(3):239-47. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e31824108ca.


Objectives: : This investigation was guided by the stress process model and had two objectives: first, to describe the extent of negative caregiving effects for family caregivers of veterans with dementia, and second, to identify salient predictors of negative caregiving effects.

Design: : Data were obtained from baseline, structured telephone interviews with family caregivers of veterans enrolled in "Partners in Dementia Care," a clinical trial testing a care coordination intervention.

Participants: : The study included 486 family caregivers of veterans with dementia who received primary care from the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system and lived at home.

Measurement: : Six negative caregiving effects were described as follows: unmet needs, four role and intrapsychic strains, and depression. Predictive factors included the following: cognitive impairment, behavior problems, personal care dependency, number of chronic conditions, and characteristics of the caregiving context.

Results: : Sizeable portions of caregivers experienced negative caregiving effects; most common were unmet needs, social isolation, and depression. Cognitive, behavioral, and functional symptoms of dementia and other coexisting chronic conditions explained significant variation in all negative caregiving effects. Caregiving context had little impact. Behavior problems were the most consistent predictor; personal care dependency and other chronic conditions were also important.

Conclusions: : Family caregivers, the foundation of long-term care for veterans with dementia who live at home, experience a variety of negative caregiving effects. Negative effects are greater when veterans exhibit behavior problems, require extensive assistance with personal care, and have a greater number of coexisting chronic conditions. Negative caregiving effects are an important target for interventions that support family caregivers and promote continued care at home.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Isolation / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • United States
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data