Prevalence of Health Problems and Health-Care Use in Partners of People with Dementia: Longitudinal Analysis with Routinely Recorded Health and Administrative Data

Iris van der Heide, Marianne Heins, Robert Verheij, Hein P. J. van Hout, Anneke Francke, Karlijn Joling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: This study aims to provide insight into the prevalence of health problems and the frequency of general practitioner (GP) contacts in cohabiting partners of persons with dementia, during the year prior to the dementia diagnosis and up to 3 years after the diagnosis. Methods: Partners of persons with dementia and a matched control group of partners of persons without dementia were identified in the routinely recorded electronic health records of 451 Dutch general practices in 2008-2015. These data were used to examine the prevalence of the partners' health problems. Differences between these partners and comparison partners in the prevalence of 16 groups of health problems (diagnostic chapters) and in the frequency of GP contacts were examined using generalized estimating equation models. Results: 1,711 partners of persons with dementia and 6,201 comparison partners were included in the analyses. Social problems, more specifically problems related to the illness and/or the loss of the partner, were significantly more prevalent in partners than in comparison partners across the years (p < 0.01), as were musculoskeletal problems (p < 0.01). Respiratory and psychological problems increased over time in partners and remained stable in comparison partners. Across the years, partners contacted their GP more often than comparison partners (p < 0.01). Discussion/Conclusion: Having a cohabiting partner with dementia has consequences for caregiver's physical and psychosocial health. The specific health problems found in this study and the increase in GP contacts might be relevant indicators of overburdening in partners of persons with dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Caregiver
  • Data linkage
  • Dementia
  • Electronic patient records
  • Health

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