Background: Qualitative research has suggested that spousal carers of someone with dementia differ in terms of whether they perceive their relationship with that person as continuous with the premorbid relationship or as radically different, and that a perception of continuity may be associated with more person-centered care and the experience of fewer of the negative emotions associated with caring. The aim of the study was to develop and evaluate a quantitative measure of the extent to which spousal carers perceive the relationship to be continuous.
Methods: An initial pool of 42 questionnaire items was generated on the basis of the qualitative research about relationship continuity. These were completed by 51 spousal carers and item analysis was used to reduce the pool to 23 items. The retained items, comprising five subscales, were then administered to a second sample of 84 spousal carers, and the questionnaire's reliability, discriminative power, and validity were evaluated.
Results: The questionnaire showed good reliability: Cronbach's α for the full scale was 0.947, and test–retest reliability was 0.932. Ferguson's δ was 0.987, indicating good discriminative power. Evidence of construct validity was provided by predicted patterns of subscale correlations with the Closeness and Conflict Scale and the Marwit–Meuser Caregiver Grief Inventory.
Conclusion: Initial psychometric evaluation of the measure was encouraging. The measure provides a quantitative means of investigating ideas from qualitative research about the role of relationship continuity in influencing how spousal carers provide care and how they react emotionally to their caring role.