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Attitudes towards Alzheimer's disease as a risk factor for caregiver burden

  • L. Zawadzki (a1), K. Mondon (a1), N. Peru (a1), C. Hommet (a1) (a2) (a3), T. Constans (a1) (a2), Ph. Gaillard (a1) (a2) and V. Camus (a1) (a2) (a3)...

Abstract

Background: There is abundant literature on the determinants of caregiver burden in Alzheimer's disease (AD), but little is known about the possible implication of specific patterns of a caregiver's attitudes towards the disease that could increase their risk of – or protect them from – emotional distress and burden. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that negative attitudes towards AD are associated with an increased level of burden experienced by caregivers of AD patients.

Methods: Family caregivers of 51 patients with AD were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their attitudes towards AD. In addition, we assessed the level of their quality of life, anxiety and depression as well as their perceived level of burden. In parallel, we documented the patients’ characteristics: global cognitive efficiency (Mini-Mental State Examination), behavioral and affective symptoms (Neuropsychiatric Inventory) and functional level (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living).

Results: The score of caregiver burden was positively correlated with negative attitudes such as authoritarianism (r = 0.41, p < 0.01) and social restrictiveness (r = 0.49, p < 0.001) as well as emotional reactions of anxiety (r = 0.44, p < 0.01) and aggressiveness (r = 0.47, p < 0.001). In addition, scores of social restrictiveness, rejection and anxiety were significantly higher in women than in men.

Conclusion: These results may have implications in terms of the prevention of caregiver burden. In particular, educational and support programs for caregivers should not be limited to developing their knowledge and skills but should also target attitudes towards the disease.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr. Luc Zawadzki, Clinique Psychiatrique Universitaire and CMRR, CHRU de Tours, Boulevard Tonnellé, 37044 Tours Cedex 01, France. Phone: + 33 2 3437 8952; Fax + 33 2 4747 9701. Email: l.zawadzki@chu-tours.fr.

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