Caregiver burden and coping strategies in caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease
Alessandro Iavarone,1,2 Antonio Rosario Ziello,3,4 Francesca Pastore,3 Angiola Maria Fasanaro,3 Carla Poderico5
1Neurological and Stroke Unit, CTO Hospital, 2Italian Association on Alzheimer's Disease (AIMA), 3Memory Clinic, Neurological Unit, AORN Cardarelli Hospital, Naples, Italy; 4Clinical Research, Telemedicine and Telepharmacy Centre, University of Camerino, Camerino, Italy; 5Department of Psychology, Second University of Naples, Caserta, Italy
Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes considerable distress in caregivers who are continuously required to deal with requests from patients. Coping strategies play a fundamental role in modulating the psychologic impact of the disease, although their role is still debated. The present study aims to evaluate the burden and anxiety experienced by caregivers, the effectiveness of adopted coping strategies, and their relationships with burden
Methods: Eighty-six caregivers received the Caregiver Burden Inventory (CBI) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI Y-1 and Y-2). The coping strategies were assessed by means of the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS), according to the model proposed by Endler and Parker in 1990.
Results: The CBI scores (overall and single sections) were extremely high and correlated with dementia severity. Women, as well as older caregivers, showed higher scores. The trait anxiety (STAI-Y-2) correlated with the CBI overall score. The CISS showed that caregivers mainly adopted task-focused strategies. Women mainly adopted emotion-focused strategies and this style was related to a higher level of distress.
Conclusion: AD is associated with high distress among caregivers. The burden strongly correlates with dementia severity and is higher in women and in elderly subjects. Chronic anxiety affects caregivers who mainly rely on emotion-oriented coping strategies. The findings suggest providing support to families of patients with AD through tailored strategies aimed to reshape the dysfunctional coping styles.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, distress, caregiver burden, stress, coping strategies
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