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A mismatch between supply and demand of social support in dementia care: a qualitative study on the perspectives of spousal caregivers and their social network members

  • Alieske E.H. Dam (a1), Lizzy M.M. Boots (a1), Martin P.J. van Boxtel (a1), Frans R.J. Verhey (a1) and Marjolein E. de Vugt (a1)...



Access to social support contributes to feelings of independence and better social health. This qualitative study aims to investigate multi-informant perspectives on informal social support in dementia care networks.


Ten spousal caregivers of people with dementia (PwD) completed an ecogram, a social network card and a semi-structured interview. The ecogram aimed to trigger subjective experiences regarding social support. Subsequently, 17 network members were interviewed. The qualitative analyses identified codes, categories, and themes.


Sixth themes emerged: (1) barriers to ask for support; (2) facilitators to ask for support; (3) barriers to offer support; (4) facilitators to offer support; (5) a mismatch between supply and demand of social support; and (6) openness in communication to repair the imbalance.


Integrating social network perspectives resulted in a novel model identifying a mismatch between the supply and demand of social support, strengthened by a cognitive bias: caregivers reported to think for other social network members and vice versa. Openness in communication in formal and informal care systems might repair this mismatch.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Marjolein E. de Vugt, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology/School for Mental Health and Neuroscience/Alzheimer Centre Limburg, Dr Tanslaan 12 (level 4 | room 4G3.068), P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands. Phone: +31 (0)43 3877445. Email:


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