Comparing the Effect of a Moderate Physical Activity Intervention on the Mental Health Outcomes of African American and Caucasian Dementia Family Caregivers: A Secondary Data Analysis

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2017 Dec;38(12):996-1004. doi: 10.1080/01612840.2017.1364807. Epub 2017 Sep 28.


Increased attention to the effects of the stressful demands of caregiving on the mental health of dementia caregivers has resulted in the development of numerous interventions. The current study is a secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial that tested a 12-month moderate physical activity intervention with dementia caregivers. Our secondary data analysis examined racial differences in caregiver mental health outcomes including subjective burden, depressive symptoms, and positive affect, as well as differences in physical activity. A total of 211 community-dwelling dementia family caregivers were randomly assigned to a 12-month Enhanced Physical Activity (treatment) Intervention (EPAI) or a Caregiver Skill Building (control) Intervention (CSBI). Of these, 34 African American and 80 Caucasian caregivers completed the study. At baseline, race was associated with subjective burden and positive affect, but not with depressive symptoms. Post intervention (12 months), there were no racial differences in subjective burden or depressive symptoms. However, race was significantly associated with decreased positive affect (p = 0.003) and decreased total minutes of physical activity (p = 0.012). Findings suggest that the mental health needs of African American caregivers warrant additional exploration, where physical activity may be of benefit. These findings provide a cultural perspective to consider during intervention development for future nurse-driven research.

Keywords: African American; caregivers; dementia; physical activity intervention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People / psychology*