Get access

Differences Between Dementia Caregivers Who are Users and Nonusers of Community Services


  • Karen M. Robinson Ph.D., P.M.H.C.N.S.-B.C., F.A.A.N.,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Nursing, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
    • Correspondence to:

      Karen M. Robinson, Professor and Executive Director, Caregivers Program of Research, School of Nursing, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292. E-mail:

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kathleen Buckwalter Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.,

    1. College of Nursing, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
    Search for more papers by this author
  • David Reed Ph.D.

    1. Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Search for more papers by this author



To examine differences between users and non-users of community services in caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD). A profile of who used services versus did not use services was developed.

Design and Sample

Existing cross-sectional data from the NINR funded National Caregiver Training Project (data collected 1995–1997) were used. The sample (N = 241) of caucasian, well-educated caregivers reflected a mix of spouse and adult caregivers with a mean age of 64.8 years.


Variables measured included caregiver social support, burden, and depression as well as problem behavior of PWD.


The majority of caregivers did not attend support groups (73%) or use respite services (79%). Among caregivers who did not use services, 78% lived with the recipient and 77% were spouses. The profile of non-users compared to users revealed that non-users were significantly older, more depressed, and received less social support. On the other hand, non-users provided fewer hours of care per week to recipients who had less cognitive and functional deterioration and fewer behavior problems.


These findings provide public health nurses with knowledge about service use in caregivers of PWD. Recommendations regarding caregiver needs for assistance and increased use of services before a crisis ensues are presented.