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Finding a balance in family caregiving for people with dementia: A correlational longitudinal study

Aims: The “Finding a Balance Point” framework was used to explore the caregiving process over time for family caregivers of people with dementia in Taiwan. This study aimed to: (a) identify Taiwanese caregivers’ different balance trajectories; (b) explore predictors of trajectory group membership; and (c) examine associations of different balance trajectories with caregiving outcomes. Design: A correlational longitudinal design was used. Methods: Data were collected from 200 family caregivers’ self‐completed questionnaires and they were followed over 2 years (June 2015–May 2017). Discrete balance trajectories were identified by group‐based trajectory modelling. Predictors of trajectory group membership were identified from potential predictors of caregiving characteristics and caregiving factors using multivariate logistic regression. Associations of trajectory groups with caregiving outcomes (depressive symptoms and health‐related quality of life) were explored using the generalized estimating equation. Results: Balance trajectories best fit a two‐group trajectory model (poor and good). Caregivers with a poor sense of balance between competing needs were more likely to have more depressive symptoms (b = 11.71, 95% CI [9.04, 14.38], p < .001), worse physical health (b = −6.22, 95% CI [−8.71, −3.74], p < .001), and worse mental health (b = −11.1, 95% CI [−13.58, −8.63], p < .001) than caregivers with a good sense of balance. Caregivers experiencing lower role strain (b = −1.45, SE = 0.48, p = .003) or higher predictability (b = 2.83, SE = 0.76, p < .001) were more likely to belong to the good‐balance group. Conclusions: Caregivers with poor balance between competing needs are more likely to have worse caregiving outcomes. Role strain and predictability significantly predicted balance trajectory groups. Family caregivers with lower caregiving task difficulty and/or better knowledge of the care receiver were more likely to be in the good balance trajectory group. Impact: Our findings support the framework, “Finding a Balance Point,” and clarify the family caregiving process for people with dementia. This framework could be used to tailor interventions for home care nurses to improve family caregivers’ caregiving outcomes.

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Journal of Advanced Nursing
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