You are here

  1. Home
  2. A comparison of primary and secondary caregivers of persons with dementia

A comparison of primary and secondary caregivers of persons with dementia

Having 2 or more relatives involved in the informal care of people with dementia is frequent worldwide. There are, however, few comparisons of primary and secondary caregivers and even fewer of those who are caring for the same person. Our study aimed to contrast these 2 experiences of caregiving. We compared 2 related samples of 61 primary and 61 secondary family caregivers of the same persons with dementia in a nonrandomized cross-sectional study. Caregivers' main outcome assessments were the Zarit Burden Interview (for subjective burden), the General Health Questionnaire (for psychological distress), and the Positive Aspects of Caregiving scale. We controlled for caregiver variables (e.g., demographics, caregiving arrangements, social support, sense of coherence) and the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia. Subjective burden was higher in primary than secondary caregivers (p = .013), but positive aspects of caregiving did not differ (p = .150). Psychological distress was high at clinically relevant levels in primary and secondary caregivers, without statistically significant differences between groups (p = .456). The findings demonstrate that notwithstanding the difficulties faced by primary caregivers, secondary caregivers may also experience clinically significant distress. Therefore, their needs for assistance and support should be addressed more systematically. These findings call for systemic family-focused interventions in dementia that address the support each person provides or might provide, as well as the psychological distress each person may feel. 

Access source material through DOI

Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
American Psychological Association
Publication Year
Issue Number
Journal Titles
Psychology And Aging
Volume Number
Start Page
End Page