Depressive symptomatology in first-degree family caregivers of Alzheimer disease patients: A cross-ethnic comparison

Dylan G. Harwood, Warren W. Barker, Marc Cantillon, David A. Loewenstein, Raymond Ownby, Ranjan Duara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


This study investigated the prevalence of depressive symptoms among White Hispanic (WH) and White non-Hispanic (WNH) first-degree family caregivers. We screened 653 primary caregivers of family members with possible or probable Alzheimer disease who presented at our outpatient memory disorders clinic. Caregiver depression was assessed utilizing the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) Scale. Overall, depression (CES-D scores ≥ 16) was more common among WH (45%) than among WNH (36%) caregivers (p < 0.05). Elevated CES-D scores among the entire caregiving sample were also linked with being a female spouse (p = 0.002), increased level of patient cognitive impairment (p = 0.002), and patient psychosis (p = 0.002). Risk factors for caregiver depression were identified and compared when the sample was stratified by ethnicity (WH and WNH) and generation (spouses and children). Patient cognitive impairment was a predictor of caregiver depression only among WH spouses and children, whereas patient psychosis was a predictor only among WNH spouses. Female caregiver gender was the most robust risk factor for caregiver depression, being a predictor in all groups except WH children. Implications of this study include the need for increased clinical sensitivity to depression in ethnic minority caregivers, treatment of psychiatric morbidity in dementia caregivers, and respite care for caregivers with high risk for depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-346
Number of pages7
JournalAlzheimer disease and associated disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998


  • Alzheimer disease
  • Caregiver depression
  • Ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)


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