Background: Caring for a relative with dementia has been associated with high levels of psychological morbidity in carers. Sense of coherence is an important resource of successful coping with caregiving. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between stress associated with caregiving, sense of coherence, and self-reported depression and anxiety in family carers of people with dementia. We hypothesized that carers reporting high levels of anxiety and depression will report low levels of coherence, and that the relationship between caregiver stress and affective symptoms will be mediated by sense of coherence.
Methods: A total of 170 carers of people with dementia took part in the present study. Family carers completed the Sense of Coherence Scale, the Relative Stress Scale, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. A series of multiple linear regressions were conducted to examine the relationship between stress related to caregiving, caregiver anxiety and depression, and whether sense of coherence mediated this relationship.
Results: Self-reported anxiety and depression were associated with low levels of sense of coherence. Sense of coherence mediated the relationship between burden and self-reported depressive effect and anxiety symptoms.
Conclusions: Carers reporting high levels of anxiety and depression are more likely to report low levels of sense of coherence. The relationship between stress related to caregiving and depressive symptoms is mediated by carers’ self-reported sense of coherence. Future psychotherapeutic intervention studies in family carers of people with dementia may incorporate strategies that specifically target sense of coherence.