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Title: Social support and psychological health of family carers of people with dementia
Author: Tzimoula, X. M.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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The majority of people with dementia are cared by family members. Family caregivers of PwD are vulnerable to high levels of burden, depression and loneliness. Social support, as a coping resource, can play an important role in the stress process. However, levels of social support can be lower than needed, which may lead to the experience of loneliness. This study aims to examine the effects of social support on caregivers' psychological well-being and whether social support interacts with burden or mediates in the burden — psychological outcome relationship, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Furthermore, I examine predictors of loneliness in caregivers of PwD and in particular the relationship between loneliness and social support. Methods: 120 family caregivers of PwD living in the community were interviewed at baseline and 97 (>80%) were re- interviewed two years later. Recruitment took place in the UK counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, and the London Borough of Havering. I employed measures of depression, perceived emotional support, burden and loneliness with sound psychometric properties. Results: Social support was significantly associated with reduced depression both at baseline and follow-up. Social support also was suggested to mediate the burden — depression relationship at baseline, but did not appear to buffer the effects of burden on depression. Psychosocial variables of perceived support and loss of companionship were suggested to predict loneliness over and above the demographic variables. Furthermore, perceived social support did not significantly buffer the effects of loss of companionship on loneliness. Therefore, different aspects of loneliness may be experienced as a result of loss of supportive others or loss of an attachment figure. Conclusions: Social support is suggested to reduce the effects of burden on depression, irrespective of how burdened caregivers were. Social support also is suggested to reduce feelings of loneliness but not those of loss of a close relationship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available