Anxiety and depression are associated with coping strategies in caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients: results from the MÁLAGA-AD study

Int Psychogeriatr. 2012 Aug;24(8):1325-34. doi: 10.1017/S1041610211002948. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


Background: Caregiving for people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is highly stressful and has significant negative consequences, such as anxiety and depression. Previous research offers conflicting findings as to whether coping strategies are associated with greater psychological distress or not. We conducted this study with a view to obtaining new data regarding the association of coping strategies and psychological distress in AD caregivers.

Methods: Eighty people with AD and their primary caregivers living in the community were recruited from local health services. Purposive recruitment was carried out to ensure that the sample was representative of people living with dementia in terms of dementia severity, gender, and care setting. We used the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory to measure anxiety, the Beck Depression Inventory to measure depression, and the Coping Strategies Inventory to measure coping strategies.

Results: Most caregivers reported higher anxiety and depression levels. Use of disengagement coping strategies (Wald = 3.35, p = 0.01) and higher caregiver burden (Wald = 4.83, p = 0.02) predicted anxiety on logistic regression. In turn, use of disengagement coping strategies (Wald = 12.48, p = 0.001) and higher caregiver burden (Wald = 6.91, p = 0.009) predicted depression on logistic regression.

Conclusion: These results may be useful for designing treatment interventions that aim to modify the use of coping strategies and thus reduces caregiver anxiety and depression.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Spain
  • Stress, Psychological / complications