The role of compassion, suffering, and intrusive thoughts in dementia caregiver depression

Richard Schulz, Jyoti Savla, Sara J. Czaja, Joan Monin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Exposure to suffering of a relative or friend increases the risk for psychological and physical morbidity. However, little is known about the mechanisms that account for this effect. We test a theoretical model that identifies intrusive thoughts as a mediator of the relation between perceived physical and psychological suffering of the care recipient and caregiver depression. We also assess the role of compassion as a moderator of the relation between perceived suffering and intrusive thoughts. Methods: Hispanic and African American caregivers (N = 108) of persons with dementia were assessed three times within a one-year period. Using multilevel modeling, we assessed the mediating role of intrusive thoughts in the relation between perceived physical and psychological suffering and CG depression, and we tested moderated mediation to assess the role of caregiver compassion in the relation between perceived suffering and intrusive thoughts. Results: The effects of perceived physical suffering on depression were completely mediated through intrusive thoughts, and compassion moderated the relation between physical suffering and intrusive thoughts. Caregivers who had greater compassion reported more intrusive thoughts even when perceived physical suffering of the CR was low. For perceived psychological suffering, the effects of suffering on depression were partially mediated through intrusive thoughts. Discussion: Understanding the role of intrusive thoughts and compassion in familial relationships provides new insights into mechanisms driving caregiver well-being and presents new opportunities for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)997-1004
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume21
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2017

Keywords

  • Family caregiving
  • compassion
  • depression
  • intrusive thoughts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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