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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;19(1):64-71. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181df4498.

Self-efficacy buffers the relationship between dementia caregiving stress and circulating concentrations of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA 92093-0680, USA.



the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 has been linked with health morbidity, particularly risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential protective role of coping self-efficacy on the relationship between caregiving stress and circulating concentrations of IL-6.


a total of 62 elderly caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease (mean age: 74 years) were assessed for plasma concentrations of IL-6, caregiving-related overload, and coping self-efficacy. Multiple regression was used to examine the main effects of stress and self-efficacy, as well as the interaction between stress and self-efficacy, in predicting plasma IL-6 after controlling for age, gender, resting blood pressure, and obesity.


there was a significant interaction between stress and self-efficacy in predicting IL-6. Post-hoc examination indicated that when self-efficacy was low, stress was significantly related to IL-6 (β = 0.43). However, when self-efficacy was high, stress was not significantly related to IL-6 (β = -0.10).


caregiving stress in combination with low coping self-efficacy is significantly related to IL-6, a known risk marker for health morbidity, particularly CVD. However, stress was not associated with IL-6 with high self-efficacy. Although limited and preliminary, these results point to a potential protective effect of self-efficacy on caregiver health that can be tested in longitudinal studies.

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