Coping with the caregiving role: Differences between primary and secondary caregivers of dependent elderly people

Barbosa, Ana, Figueiredo, Daniela, Sousa, Liliana and Demain, Sara (2011) Coping with the caregiving role: Differences between primary and secondary caregivers of dependent elderly people Aging and Mental Health, 15, (4), pp. 490-499. (doi:10.1080/13607863.2010.543660). (PMID:21500016).


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Objectives: The topic of how primary informal caregivers cope with their caregiving demands has generated significant research. However, little is known about secondary informal caregivers, who often share caregiving responsibilities. This cross-sectional study aims to analyse and compare the use and effectiveness of coping strategies of primary and secondary informal caregivers of dependent elderly people, living at home.

Method: A sample of 180 informal caregivers of dependent elderly people – 90 primary and 90 secondary caregivers – was obtained. The study was conducted in the district of Aveiro (Portugal). The Portuguese version of Caregivers’ Assessment Management Index - CAMI (Nolan, Keady, & Grant, 1995) was administrated to both sub-samples.

Results: Findings suggest that emotioncognitive strategies are less efficient for secondary caregivers (e.g., drawing on personal or religious beliefs). Common problem-solving strategies adopted by both types of caregivers involve
relying on own their experience and expertise and addressing and finding a solution to the
problem. Neither group were highly efficient at managing care-related stress, but both identified
benefits from taking time off or maintaining interests outside of caregiving. Conclusion: These
findings can guide professionals in targeting and monitoring interventions aiming to develop
caregivers’ effective coping strategies. Besides, engage secondary caregivers in current available
interventions and services, usually targeted to the primary caregiver, is of paramount need, as they
can reduce the burden of primary caregivers and delay institutionalisation.
Keywords: primary informal caregiver; secondary informal caregiver; coping; frail elderly people.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/13607863.2010.543660
ISSNs: 1360-7863 (print)
Keywords: primary informal caregiver, secondary informal caregiver, coping, frail elderly people
ePrint ID: 186055
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 12 May 2011 08:18
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 02:14
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