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Mental health, stress correlates and psychotropic drug use or non-use among aged caregivers to elders with dementia

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The goal of the study was to compare caregivers who used psychotropic drugs with caregivers who were non-users in order to pinpoint differences in coping styles between the two groups. We performed a secondary analysis of a study on the stress and psychological well-being of persons caring for relatives with dementia. We compared elderly caregivers, as either psychotropic drug users (n = 61) or non-users (n = 133), over various psychosocial characteristics relating to the care-giving context. Results reveal that users, as compared to non-users were: (a) more disturbed (appraised a greater stress) by the relative's dysfunctional behaviours, after controlling for the frequency of the behaviours; and (b) experienced more conflict during interpersonal interactions, although their appraisal of self-satisfaction with formal and informal support to their care-giving activities did not differ significantly. Strikingly, users combined and called on a greater number of problem-focused and emotion-reducing coping strategies than did non-users. They more frequently used affective regulation and information seeking coping styles. Stress-related measures (especially stress appraisal and conflict) contributed more to the variation in mental distress of users than of non-users. Results provide a theoretical and empirical rationale for therapeutic interventions such as the cognitive behavioural approach.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Quebec in Hull & Groupe de recherche sur les aspects sociaux de la santé et de la prévention, Canada 2: University of Montreal & Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatie de Montréal, Canada 3: University of Quebec in Chicoutimi, Canada

Publication date: 2001-08-01

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