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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • caregivers;
  • coping;
  • older;
  • nursing;
  • subjective burden

Aims and objectives

To investigate relationships between anxiety and stressors, coping and subjective burden and to contribute to defining factors related to anxiety among family caregivers of older dependents.

Background

Despite the studies analysing factors related to anxiety in caregivers, there is not enough evidence about this issue.

Design

Cross-sectional design.

Methods

Data from 140 family caregivers (convenience sample) were analysed using descriptive statistics, correlation coefficients and path analysis. Socio-demographic data and several scales (Barthel Index, Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire, Cummings Neuropsychiatric Inventory, Brief COPE, Caregiver Strain Index and Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale) were used to collect data.

Results

Stressors (psychiatric and psychological symptoms and number of assisted activities of daily living), emotion-focused coping, dysfunctional coping and subjective burden were related to greater anxiety. Subjective burden mediated the effects of psychiatric and psychological symptoms on anxiety and partially mediated the effects of dysfunctional coping on anxiety.

Conclusions

Stressors, dysfunctional coping and subjective burden were identified as factors related to anxiety. The mediating role of subjective burden in the relationship between dysfunctional coping and anxiety was supported. The effect of dysfunctional coping on anxiety was independent of the stressors.

Relevance to clinical practice

These conclusions justify several recommendations regarding nursing interventions for family caregivers of older dependents: (1) stressors, dysfunctional coping and subjective burden can be used in clinical practice for early detection of and early intervention for anxiety; (2) to prevent subjective burden and anxiety, approach-coping skills should be promoted through interventions such as problem-solving, positive reappraisal, assertiveness and control of negative thoughts; (3) these interventions for dysfunctional coping should be systematically developed for individuals with dysfunctional coping regardless of the level of stressors and/or the possibility of respite.