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Sch Inq Nurs Pract. 1998 Fall;12(3):221-34; discussion 235-8.

Wives, husbands, and daughters of dementia patients: predictors of caregivers' mental and physical health.

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  • 1College of Nursing, Rush University, Chicago, IL, USA.


The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in and predictors of mental and physical health among wife, husband, and daughter caregivers of dementia patients using a stress and coping framework. The sample of 151 caregivers consisted of 55 wives, 43 husbands, and 53 daughters and was recruited from multiple community-based sources. Variables addressed were caregiver age, social position, years spent in caregiving, dementia severity, burden, worry, physical health, and mental health. Analysis of variance demonstrated gender-specific, kinship group differences in burden (F = 8.09, p = .000), worry (F = 6.287, p = .002), and age (F = 55.27, p = .000). Post hoc comparisons indicated that wives reported worrying most, while husbands were oldest and reported the least burden. Health predictors differed by group, with wives' mental health being predicted by severity of dementia, age, and worry (R2 = .16), husbands' mental health was predicted by burden and worry (R2 = .18); and worry was the only significant predictor of daughters' mental health (R2 = .33). Wives' physical health was predicted by years of caregiving and age (R2 = .10); husbands' physical health was predicted by age and worry (R2 = .24); and daughters' physical health was predicted by years spent in caregiving and burden (R2 = .27). Findings suggest that a stress and coping framework is a better predictive model for daughters' mental and physical health than for health of wives and husbands. Findings further indicate that different health-related nursing interventions may be required for different caregiver groups.

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