Self-complexity and family caregivers of Alzheimer's disease victims



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas Tech University


There are strong indications that the elderly population of the United States is ever increasing in number. The most significant increase has been in those over age 85. This becomes particularly important when one considers the fact that Alzheimer's disease is for the most part a disease of the elderly. During the past decade, a great deal of interest has been shown in helping the caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients deal with the oftentimes intense, long-term demands placed upon them while caring for victims of this basically unremitting disease. The present study was specifically interested in how the caregivers cope with stress-related burden and depression, with the special contribution of this study being the inclusion of Linville's self-complexity model. It is a model for examining self-complexity as a stress-related cognitive buffer or moderator variable. When in a multiplicative interaction with stress, self-complexity is hypothesized to provide a buffering effect on the adverse impact of stressful events.

Participants were 74 adult family caregivers. The study involved two sessions, spaced a month apart, with the participants completing a packet of six instruments during each session. The participants reported life stresses, sense of burden, depression, and caregiver perception of patient level of functioning for the past month. In addition, they completed a measure of their self-complexity at each session. Four hypotheses were examined, using the data from the test periods.

Preliminary analyses of self-complexity scores were quite close to those of Linville, However, when regression analyses were used, the results did not confirm Linville's previous research. The hypotheses testing did not support self-complexity as a stress-related buffer for family caregivers of Alzheimer's disease victims. The precise reasons for this are unclear, but multicollinearity appears to have been a limitation.