Stigma, Expressed Emotion, and Quality of Life in Caregivers of Individuals with Dementia

Amy G Weisman, Marc J. Weintraub, Jessica Maura, Ana Martinez de Andino, Caitlin A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Expressed emotion (EE) is a measure of a caregiver's critical and emotionally overinvolved (EOI; e.g., intrusive, self-sacrificing) attitudes and behaviors toward a person with a mental illness. Mounting evidence indicates that high levels of these critical and EOI attitudes and behaviors (collectively termed high EE) in family members are associated with a poorer course of illness for people with a range of disorders, including dementia (Nomura et al., 2005). However, less is known about factors that might trigger high EE and how high EE might impact dementia caregivers' own mental health. In this study we propose that caregivers who perceive stigma from their relative's illness may be more likely to be critical or intrusive (high EOI) toward their relative in an attempt to control symptomatic behaviors. We further hypothesized that high EE would partially mediate the link between stigma and quality of life (QoL) as there is some evidence that high EE is associated with poorer mental health in caregivers themselves (Safavi et al., 2015). In line with study hypotheses and using a sample of 106 dementia caregivers, we found that greater caregiver stigma was associated with both high EE (for criticism and EOI) and with poorer QoL. Mediational analyses further confirmed that high EE accounts for much of the association between stigma and poorer QoL. Study results suggest that addressing caregiver stigma in therapy could reduce levels of high EE and indirectly therefore improve caregiver QoL. Intervening directly to reduce high EE could also improve caregiver QoL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily Process
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Caregivers
  • Dementia
  • Expressed Emotion
  • Quality of Life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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