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Keywords:

  • caregiving;
  • depression;
  • burden;
  • dementia

Abstract

Background

Earlier studies have yielded inconsistent findings regarding gender differences with respect to burden and depression among informal community caregivers of dementia patients.

Objectives

The aim of the study was to determine whether or not there were gender differences in the prevalence of burden and depression among informal caregivers of community-residing dementia patients.

Methods

Data from 259 female and 68 male caregivers who were part of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging were analyzed. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies—Depression Scale (CES-D). Burden was assessed using Zarit's Burden Interview. Associations between the outcome variables (depressive symtoms and burden) and the independent variable, gender, were examined using logistic regression.

Results

In multivariable analysis, female caregivers were found to have significantly higher odds than male caregivers of having a score of 33 or higher on Zarit's Burden Interview (OR = 2.6; 95% CI 1.0, 6.7). The OR comparing women to men with respect to a high level of depressive symptoms (defined as a score of 16 or more on the CES-D) was not significant (OR = 1.3; 95% CI 0.6, 2.9). Poor perceived caregivers health and more behavior disturbance in the patient were associated with significantly higher odds of high levels of caregiver burden and depression.

Conclusions

Adequate assistance must be given to women caregivers to ensure that they are not strained beyond what is clinically healthy. In addition, interventions should target caregivers of behaviorally disturbed patients as well as caregivers who report poor physical health to reduce the negative psychological impact of caregiving. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.