Objectives: The topic of how primary informal caregivers cope with their caregiving demands has generated significant research. However, little is known about secondary informal caregivers, who often share caregiving responsibilities. This cross-sectional study aims to analyse and compare the use and effectiveness of coping strategies of primary and secondary informal caregivers of dependent elderly people, living at home.
Method: A sample of 180 informal caregivers of dependent elderly people – 90 primary and 90 secondary caregivers – was obtained. The study was conducted in the district of Aveiro (Portugal). The Portuguese version of Caregivers’ Assessment Management Index – CAMI (Nolan, Keady, & Grant, 1995) was administrated to both sub-samples.
Results: Findings suggest that emotion-cognitive strategies are less efficient for secondary caregivers (e.g. drawing on personal or religious beliefs). Common problem-solving strategies adopted by both types of caregivers involve relying on own their experience and expertise and addressing and finding a solution to the problem. Neither group were highly efficient at managing care-related stress, but both identified benefits from taking time off or maintaining interests outside of caregiving.
Conclusion: These findings can guide professionals in targeting and monitoring interventions aiming to develop caregivers’ effective coping strategies. Besides, engaging secondary caregivers in current available interventions and services, usually targeted to the primary caregiver, is of paramount need, as they can reduce the burden of primary caregivers and delay institutionalisation.