Emotional reactivity to daily life stress in spousal caregivers of people with dementia: An experience sampling study

Rosalia J. M. van Knippenberg, Marjolein E. de Vugt, Rudolf W. Ponds, Frans R. J. Verhey, Inez Myin-Germeys

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Caregivers differ in their emotional response when facing difficult situations during the caregiving process. Individual differences in vulnerabilities and resources could play an exacerbating or buffering role in caregivers' reactivity to daily life stress. This study examines which caregiver characteristics modify emotional stress reactivity in dementia caregivers. Methods Thirty caregivers collected momentary data, as based on the experience sampling methodology, to assess (1) appraised subjective stress related to events and minor disturbances in daily life, and (2) emotional reactivity to these daily life stressors, conceptualized as changes in negative affect. Caregiver characteristics (i.e. vulnerabilities and resources) were administered retrospectively. Results Caregivers who more frequently used the coping strategies seeking distraction', seeking social support', and fostering reassuring thoughts' experienced less emotional reactivity towards stressful daily events. A higher educational level and a higher sense of competence and mastery lowered emotional reactivity towards minor disturbances in daily life. No effects were found for age, gender, and hours of care and contact with the person with dementia. Discussion Caregiver resources can impact emotional reactivity to daily life stress. Interventions aimed at empowerment of caregiver resources, such as sense of competence, mastery, and coping, could help to reduce stress reactivity in dementia caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0194118
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

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