Caregiver stress across different dementia types
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Research examining the risk factors of caregiver stress has included various populations treating caregivers as a homogenous group. This can dilute possible effects of disorder specific risk factors. Recently, the literature has examined caregiver stress across neurological diseases. This study aimed to describe and compare four groups of community based New Zealanders (Parkinson’s disease = PD; Parkinson’s disease with dementia = PDD; Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias = AD+; and a control group = ND) and their caregivers in terms of demographic, functional, neuropsychiatric and psychosocial risk factors for caregiver stress.
Anonymised data from the New Zealand InterRAI-HC was used. A total of 66266 clients were included in the analyses. Caregivers who expressed feelings of distress, anger or depression were categorised as experiencing stress. Chi-square and logistic regression analyses were used. A total of five hierarchical logistic regressions were run; one for each group; and one regression containing the diagnostic groups as predictor variables.
Caregivers in the PDD group spent more hours caregiving and provided more support with activities of daily living compared to caregivers in other groups. The proportion of caregivers experiencing stress was significantly higher in the PDD group compared to all other groups (PDD = 36%; AD+ = 31%; PD = 21%; ND = 15%; χ2 = 1859.3, p <.001). When controlling for covariates, this result was not upheld in logistic regressions; instead, caring for clients with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia increased the odds of caregiver stress by 15%. Logistic regressions contained 28 predictors and explained between 11-24% of variance in caregiver stress. Including psychosocial predictors explained a small but significant amount of variance in caregiver stress.
The results did not show a clear pattern of risk factors established in the literature, which could be due to a power problem and/or sample size imbalance across groups. While clients in the PDD group had more complex needs, the study showed that caregivers of clients with different neurological conditions face unique challenges and it remains unclear whether these challenges are reflected in caregiver stress.