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The Development of the strain in dementia care scale (SDCS)

  • Anna-Karin Edberg (a1), Katrina Anderson (a2), Anneli Orrung Wallin (a1) and Mike Bird (a3)

Though many staff gain satisfaction from working with people with dementia in residential facilities, they also experience significant stress. This is a serious issue because this in turn can affect the quality of care. There is, however, a lack of instruments to measure staff strain in the dementia-specific residential care environment, and the aim of this study, accordingly, was to develop the “Strain in Dementia Care Scale.”


The instrument was developed in three steps. In the first step, items were derived from six focus group discussions with 35 nurses in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Sweden concerning their experience of strain. In the second step, a preliminary 64-item scale was distributed to 927 dementia care staff in Australia and Sweden, which, based on exploratory factor analysis, resulted in a 29-item scale. In the final step, the 29-item scale was distributed to a new sample of 346 staff in Sweden, and the results were subjected to confirmatory factor analysis.


The final scale comprised the following 27 items producing a five-factor solution: Frustrated empathy; difficulties understanding and interpreting; balancing competing needs; balancing emotional involvement; and lack of recognition.


The scale can be used (a) as an outcome measurement in residential care intervention studies; (b) to help residential facilities identify interventions needed to improve staff well-being, and, by extension, those they care for; and (c) to generally make more salient the critical issue of staff strain and the importance of ameliorating it.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: Anna-Karin Edberg, Department of Health and Society, Kristianstad University, SE 291 88 Kristianstad, Sweden. Phone: +46-44-204075. Email:
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International Psychogeriatrics
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