Aim. This paper presents findings from secondary analysis of longitudinal data on correlates of care relationship mutuality collected from 91 carers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in the control group of a randomized trial of home-care skill training.
Background. Many family members and other informal carers are reported to suffer multiple adverse social, financial, psychological and physical caregiving outcomes. High levels of mutuality, the perception that the quality of the care relationship is positive, reportedly ameliorate these negative outcomes.
Method. Multilevel models for change were used to explore whether care recipient functional ability, carer gender, depressive symptoms, kin relation to care recipient (spouse, non-spouse) and years of caregiving experience were related to carers’ perceptions of care relationship mutuality over a 12-month period. Data collection took place between 2003 and 2008.
Results. Carers who reported lower mutuality: (1) were caring for care recipients with lower functional ability, (2) had less caregiving experience and (3) had more depressive symptoms.
Conclusion. Informal carers who perceive little mutuality in their relationship with the care recipient may be more likely to terminate care early. Clinicians and researchers should explore the quality of the caregiving relationship as a critical factor in carer and care recipient outcomes. Home-care skill training may need to include relationship-building skills to offset adverse carer outcomes.