Objective: The relationship between people with dementia and their carers is complex and has a significant impact on the dementia experience. The aim of this current study was to determine (1) which factors are associated with the quality of the patient-carer relationship and (2) whether these differ between the two perspectives.
Method: Participants (people with dementia and their carers) were taken from a randomised controlled trial of cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety in dementia. The quality of the relationship from both perspectives, anxiety and depression in both parties; and the quality of life, neuropsychiatric symptoms and cognitive functioning in people with dementia was examined at three time points (baseline, 15 weeks and 6 months).
Results: There were 127 observations from 50 dyads (100 individuals) across the three time points. Factors significantly related to quality of relationship from the person with dementia's perspective were their own aggression, agitation, irritability, depression, anxiety and quality of life. Factors significantly associated with quality of relationship from the carer's perspective were their own anxiety and depression, and the depression, irritability, behavioural disturbances and quality of life of the person with dementia. People with dementia generally rated the quality of relationship higher, irrespective of level of dementia, depression or anxiety.
Conclusion: This study is novel in that it provides a valuable insight into the impact of mental health on relationship quality for both members of the dyad. The findings emphasise the importance of providing interventions which target mood for both parties, and behavioural problems for people with dementia.
Keywords: anxiety; carer; dementia; relationship.