Empathy in informal dementia caregivers and its relationship with depression, anxiety, and burden

Linda H. Jutten*, Ruth E. Mark, Margriet M. Sitskoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Background/Objective: 

Recent interventions aim to heighten informal caregivers' empathy levels assuming that this will lead to better well-being. However, previous studies have explored linear associations between empathy and aspects of well-being and yielded mixed results. We hypothesized that quadratic models may be more fitting to describe these relationships. 

Method: 

A cross-sectional study, with two groups (201 informal caregivers, and 187 non-caregivers) was conducted. Participants completed questionnaires on cognitive and affective empathy, and depression, anxiety, and caregiver burden. AN(C)OVA's and multiple hierarchical regression analyses including linear and quadratic terms were used to analyze the data. 

Results: 

For caregivers, there was a negative quadratic relationship between depression and cognitive empathy, and a positive linear relationship between anxiety and affective empathy, irrespective of sociodemographic characteristics. For non-caregivers, there were positive quadratic relationships between depression and cognitive and affective empathy, and between anxiety and affective empathy. The empathy levels did not differ between the groups. 

Conclusions: 

While caregivers and non-caregivers had the same amount of empathy, the relationships between empathy and depression and anxiety differed between the groups. Interventions for informal caregivers could aim to heighten cognitive empathy and to lower affective empathy to diminish depression and anxiety symptoms. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier Espana, S.L.U. on behalf of Asociacion Espanola de Psicologia Conductual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-21
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Empathy
  • Informal caregivers
  • Cross sectional study
  • SPOUSAL CAREGIVERS
  • FAMILY CAREGIVERS
  • CARE
  • DYNAMICS
  • PEOPLE
  • HEALTH

Cite this

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title = "Empathy in informal dementia caregivers and its relationship with depression, anxiety, and burden",
abstract = "Background/Objective: Recent interventions aim to heighten informal caregivers' empathy levels assuming that this will lead to better well-being. However, previous studies have explored linear associations between empathy and aspects of well-being and yielded mixed results. We hypothesized that quadratic models may be more fitting to describe these relationships. Method: A cross-sectional study, with two groups (201 informal caregivers, and 187 non-caregivers) was conducted. Participants completed questionnaires on cognitive and affective empathy, and depression, anxiety, and caregiver burden. AN(C)OVA's and multiple hierarchical regression analyses including linear and quadratic terms were used to analyze the data. Results: For caregivers, there was a negative quadratic relationship between depression and cognitive empathy, and a positive linear relationship between anxiety and affective empathy, irrespective of sociodemographic characteristics. For non-caregivers, there were positive quadratic relationships between depression and cognitive and affective empathy, and between anxiety and affective empathy. The empathy levels did not differ between the groups. Conclusions: While caregivers and non-caregivers had the same amount of empathy, the relationships between empathy and depression and anxiety differed between the groups. Interventions for informal caregivers could aim to heighten cognitive empathy and to lower affective empathy to diminish depression and anxiety symptoms. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier Espana, S.L.U. on behalf of Asociacion Espanola de Psicologia Conductual.",
keywords = "Dementia, Depression, Empathy, Informal caregivers, Cross sectional study, SPOUSAL CAREGIVERS, FAMILY CAREGIVERS, CARE, DYNAMICS, PEOPLE, HEALTH",
author = "Jutten, {Linda H.} and Mark, {Ruth E.} and Sitskoorn, {Margriet M.}",
year = "2019",
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Empathy in informal dementia caregivers and its relationship with depression, anxiety, and burden. / Jutten, Linda H.; Mark, Ruth E.; Sitskoorn, Margriet M.

In: International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2019, p. 12-21.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Empathy in informal dementia caregivers and its relationship with depression, anxiety, and burden

AU - Jutten, Linda H.

AU - Mark, Ruth E.

AU - Sitskoorn, Margriet M.

PY - 2019

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N2 - Background/Objective: Recent interventions aim to heighten informal caregivers' empathy levels assuming that this will lead to better well-being. However, previous studies have explored linear associations between empathy and aspects of well-being and yielded mixed results. We hypothesized that quadratic models may be more fitting to describe these relationships. Method: A cross-sectional study, with two groups (201 informal caregivers, and 187 non-caregivers) was conducted. Participants completed questionnaires on cognitive and affective empathy, and depression, anxiety, and caregiver burden. AN(C)OVA's and multiple hierarchical regression analyses including linear and quadratic terms were used to analyze the data. Results: For caregivers, there was a negative quadratic relationship between depression and cognitive empathy, and a positive linear relationship between anxiety and affective empathy, irrespective of sociodemographic characteristics. For non-caregivers, there were positive quadratic relationships between depression and cognitive and affective empathy, and between anxiety and affective empathy. The empathy levels did not differ between the groups. Conclusions: While caregivers and non-caregivers had the same amount of empathy, the relationships between empathy and depression and anxiety differed between the groups. Interventions for informal caregivers could aim to heighten cognitive empathy and to lower affective empathy to diminish depression and anxiety symptoms. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier Espana, S.L.U. on behalf of Asociacion Espanola de Psicologia Conductual.

AB - Background/Objective: Recent interventions aim to heighten informal caregivers' empathy levels assuming that this will lead to better well-being. However, previous studies have explored linear associations between empathy and aspects of well-being and yielded mixed results. We hypothesized that quadratic models may be more fitting to describe these relationships. Method: A cross-sectional study, with two groups (201 informal caregivers, and 187 non-caregivers) was conducted. Participants completed questionnaires on cognitive and affective empathy, and depression, anxiety, and caregiver burden. AN(C)OVA's and multiple hierarchical regression analyses including linear and quadratic terms were used to analyze the data. Results: For caregivers, there was a negative quadratic relationship between depression and cognitive empathy, and a positive linear relationship between anxiety and affective empathy, irrespective of sociodemographic characteristics. For non-caregivers, there were positive quadratic relationships between depression and cognitive and affective empathy, and between anxiety and affective empathy. The empathy levels did not differ between the groups. Conclusions: While caregivers and non-caregivers had the same amount of empathy, the relationships between empathy and depression and anxiety differed between the groups. Interventions for informal caregivers could aim to heighten cognitive empathy and to lower affective empathy to diminish depression and anxiety symptoms. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier Espana, S.L.U. on behalf of Asociacion Espanola de Psicologia Conductual.

KW - Dementia

KW - Depression

KW - Empathy

KW - Informal caregivers

KW - Cross sectional study

KW - SPOUSAL CAREGIVERS

KW - FAMILY CAREGIVERS

KW - CARE

KW - DYNAMICS

KW - PEOPLE

KW - HEALTH

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SN - 1697-2600

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