Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Jane Woody


Individuals who take on the role of caregiving for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease face many simultaneous stressors. Effective coping with such stressors has profound implications for caregiver well-being and the ability to provide effective care. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of various coping strategies on caregiver depression, controlling for the effects other factors previously shown to be related to depression. Using data from interviews with 427 caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, items derived from Endler and Parker’s Multidimensional Coping Inventory were factor analyzed to confirm the underlying structure. A five-factor structure was found to have the best fit to these data. Avoidance-focused coping was retained from the original factors. In addition, the following factors were derived: self‐blame, wishful thinking, planning, and finding meaning. Scores on the CES-D depression scale were then regressed on the 5 coping factors and 23 covariates. Ten of the 23 covariates were significant. Caregivers more likely to be depressed were younger, Caucasian, in poor health, taking psychotropic medications, and spouses of the patient. More depressed caregivers also indicated having less affection for the patient and a greater perception of social obligation to provide care. They tended to be assisted by multiple caregivers, and were overall less satisfied with assistance received from others, and less satisfied with direction and guidance received in caregiving. In addition to these covariates, three of the five coping factors were significantly related to depression: wishful thinking and self-blame were positively related to depression, and escapism was negatively related to depression. The implications of these results are applicable to the design and availability of services for caregivers. It is known that caregivers seek respite services most often, and from this analysis it appears that aiding caregivers in finding personal time and enjoyable outlets should be beneficial.


A Thesis Presented to the School of Social Work and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Social Work University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Debra E. Allwardt April, 2003.