The psychosocial toll of caring for an individual with dementia is an important, if understudied, concept. For practitioners and researchers alike, understanding the relation between patient characteristics and different facets of caregiver burden is important for guiding treatment and prevention efforts. The current study analyzed the dimensions of caregiver burden and the relation between caregiver burden and results of neuropsychological testing. Participants included 243 dyads of caregivers and Veterans referred for neuropsychological evaluation. Caregivers completed the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) to assess caregiver burden. Patients completed a battery of neuropsychological tests measuring the domains of attention/processing speed, memory, language, and executive functioning. A principal components analysis of the ZBI revealed a three-factor structure: psychosocial burden, dependency burden, and guilt. Correlations with neuropsychological test performance by Veteran patients suggested that test performance in the memory, attention, processing speed, executive functioning, and emotional functioning domains were solely related to the caregiver dependency burden factor of the ZBI. Additional analyses suggested severity of dementia and number of tests in the impaired range further influenced reported caregiver burden. The current study is one of the few studies examining caregiver burden in relation to neuropsychological functioning in a mixed clinical sample and has important implications for clinical practice.
Keywords: Veterans; Zarit Burden Interview; burden; caregiver; cognitive impairment; dementia; factor analysis; geriatric; neuropsychology; rehabilitation.