Background: Family care of frail elderly people has been linked to significant negative consequences for caregivers' mental health. Although outcome variables such as burden and depression have been widely analyzed in this population, guilt, an emotion frequently observed in caregivers, has not received sufficient attention in the research literature.
Methods: Face-to-face interviews were carried out with 288 dementia caregivers. Guilt was measured using the Caregiver Guilt Questionnaire (CGQ).
Results: Using principal components analysis, 22 items were retained and five factors were obtained which explained 59.25% of the variance. These factors were labeled: guilt about doing wrong by the care recipient, guilt about not rising to the occasion as caregivers, guilt about self-care, guilt about neglecting other relatives, and guilt about having negative feelings towards other people. Acceptable reliability indexes were found, and significant associations between the CGQ and its factors and the Zarit Burden Interview guilt factor were also found. Caregivers with higher scores on the CGQ also scored higher in depression, anxiety, frequency and appraisal of behavioral problems. Negative associations between the CGQ and its factors and frequency of/and satisfaction with leisure and social support were also found. Being female and caring for a parent were associated with higher scores on the CGQ.
Conclusions: Feelings of guilt are significantly related to caregiver distress. The CGQ may be a useful measure for acknowledging feelings of guilt in caregivers; moreover, it can be used as an outcome variable for psychoeducational interventions aimed at reducing caregiver distress.