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Poor caregiver mental health predicts mortality of patients with neurodeGENErative disease

2018-03-01 12:30  
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Poor caregiver mental health predicts mortality of patients with neurodeGENErative disease

Sandy J. Lwi, Brett Q. Ford, James J. Casey, Bruce L. Miller and Robert W. Levenson
  1. Edited by Susan T. Fiske, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved May 30, 2017 (received for review January 29, 2017)

Abstract

Dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases cause profound declines in functioning; thus, many patients require caregivers for assistance with daily living. Patients differ greatly in how long they live after disease onset, with the nature and severity of the disease playing an important role. Caregiving can also be extremely stressful, and many caregivers experience declines in mental health. In this study, we investigated the role that caregiver mental health plays in patient mortality. In 176 patient–caregiver dyads, we found that worse caregiver mental health predicted greater patient mortality even when accounting for key risk factors in patients (i.e., diagnosis, age, sex, dementia severity, and patient mental health). These findings highlight the importance of caring for caregivers as well as patients when attempting to improve patients’ lives.

Fig. 1.

Survival curves for caregiver mental health symptoms (SF-36) and patient mortality. The figure depicts survival curves for model 3 wherein caregiver mental health symptoms predict patients’ survival rate while accounting for patient variables (i.e., diagnosis, sex, age, dementia severity, and mental health) and caregiver physical health. Caregiver mental health symptoms (as measured by the SF-36) are depicted using a median split for display purposes only.

doi:10.1073/pnas.1617357114

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