Correlates of objective and subjective measures of caregiver burden among dementia caregivers: influence of unmet patient and caregiver dementia-related care needs

Int Psychogeriatr. 2014 Nov;26(11):1875-83. doi: 10.1017/S1041610214001240. Epub 2014 Aug 8.


Background: This study examines the relationship of unmet dementia-related care needs of community-dwelling persons, and their caregivers (CGs), to measures of caregiver burden.

Methods: Cross-sectional baseline data were analyzed from participants in a dementia care coordination trial of community-residing persons with dementia (PWD) (n = 254) and their caregivers (n = 246). Participants were recruited from Northwest Baltimore, Maryland. The Zarit Burden Inventory (ZBI) was used to measure subjective caregiver burden. Objective burden was measured by estimating the total hours per week spent doing things for the PWD and/or how many hours CGs missed paid work in the prior month due to caregiving responsibilities. The Johns Hopkins Dementia Care Needs Assessment was used to identify unmet dementia-related care needs. Bivariate and multivariate linear regressions examined the relationship of unmet needs, demographic, clinical, or functional characteristics with caregiver burden measures.

Results: In adjusted multivariable models, patient neuropsychiatric symptoms and caregiver unmet emotional needs explained 22% of the variance in ZBI scores. In adjusted multivariable models, caregiver need for respite, patient functional dependency, and caregiver unmet specialty medical needs explained 26% of the variance in the hours per week spent caregiving. PWD's level of functional dependency was the sole correlate of missed time at work, explaining 11% of the variance.

Conclusions: Addressing potentially modifiable unmet caregiver needs may reduce subjective and objective caregiver burden.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires