Gender effects on components of burden and depression among dementia caregivers

Objective: Previous literature has examined burden and depression predominately as unitary constructs in relation to dementia caregiving. No studies thus far have examined gender differences in the specific components of burden and depression in dementia caregivers. The current study examined whether empirically validated dimensions of caregiver burden differed by gender for dementia caregivers.

Methods: The sample consisted of 211 dementia caregivers enrolled in a longitudinal intervention study. Only baseline functioning was evaluated in this study. Levels of burden were assessed using the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI), and levels of depression were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).

Results: Factor analysis revealed three facets of burden: impact of caregiving on the caregivers’ lives, guilt, and frustration/embarrassment, and four facets of depression: depressed affect, somatic activity, positive affect, and interpersonal feelings. Overall burden (p < .001) and impact of caregiving on the caregivers’ life (p < .001) were significantly higher in females. Overall levels of depression (p = .018), somatic and retarded activity (p = .018), depressed affect (p = .005), and positive affect (p = .012) were significantly higher in females.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that distressed male and female dementia caregivers experience caregiving differently. Results from this study could be used to identify gender-specific interventions related to subtypes of burden and depression to optimize quality of life for caregivers.

Sarah Pillemer, Jennifer Davis, and Geoffrey Tremont. Gender effects on components of burden and depression among dementia caregivers | Aging & Mental Health | Published online: 12 June 2017

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