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An analysis of carer burden among family carers of people with and without dementia in Ireland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 June 2020

Áine Teahan*
Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia (CESRD), NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland
Attracta Lafferty
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland
John Cullinan
School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland
Gerard Fealy
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland
Eamon O’Shea
Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia (CESRD), NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland
Correspondence should be addressed to: Áine Teahan, Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia (CESRD), NUI Galway, Ireland. Phone: +35391495461. Email:



Despite the policy relevance of carer burden, limited research focuses on family carers’ experience of carer burden among different disease groups. This study aimed to examine differences in carer burden among family carers of people with and without dementia.


Secondary data analysis was conducted on a national cross-sectional dataset. Multivariable ordered logistic regression was used to analyze four levels of carer burden (low, mild, moderate, high). The main independent variable was dementia diagnosis, and controls included variables relating to the care recipient, family carer, and context of care.


The original survey was funded by Irish Health Service Executive and undertaken by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People in Ireland.


The original dataset consisted of 2,311 family carers of older people in Ireland. Approximately, one-fifth of this sample had a diagnosis of dementia.


Carer burden was measured using the standardized 22-item Zarit Burden Interview. Care-recipient dependency was measured using the Activities for Daily Living Scale. Sociodemographic details and information about the context of caring were collected using self-report scales.


In our model, dementia diagnosis and dependency level were significantly associated with carer burden. Family carer and context of care variables including gender, marital status, education, residence, co-residence, and perceived support showed significant relationships with carer burden. Our results highlighted significant differences in carer burden distribution; in particular, family carers of people with dementia were less likely to report low or mild carer burden (−6.95 ppts and −3.64 ppts, respectively) and more likely to report moderate or high carer burden (8.46 ppts and 2.13 ppts, respectively).


Our findings suggest that family carers of people with dementia may experience additional challenges associated with caring. Therefore, family carers of people with dementia may require tailored social supports to maintain good health and well-being.

Original Research Article
© International Psychogeriatric Association 2020

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