Journal Article


Maria M Pertl
Ian H Robertson
Caoimhe Hannigan
Brian A Lawlor
Sabina Brennan
Michael O'Sullivan



population chronic stress dementia control groups self control reaction time cognitive cognitive function

Cognitive functioning among cognitively intact dementia caregivers compared to matched self-selected and population controls. (2018)

Abstract Caregiving for a person with dementia is frequently used to model the impact of chronic stress on health, including cognitive functioning. However, the prevalence of typically healthier, self-selecting non-caregiving control groups could contribute to a picture of poorer caregiver performance and overstate the negative effects of stress. We investigated differences in cognitive performance between dementia caregivers and two groups of non-caregivers recruited using different sampling methods. We compared cognitive function and psychological wellbeing among 252 spousal dementia caregivers with demographically matched non-caregiving control groups drawn from (1) a population study and (2) a self-selecting sample. Comparable cognitive measures included immediate and delayed recall, processing speed reaction time and verbal fluency. Caregiver and non-caregiver performance was comparable on most cognitive domains. However, caregivers outperformed both control groups on processing speed (p ≤ .05) and reaction time (p ≤ .05), despite having higher levels of stress and depression (ps < .001). Furthermore, caregivers had significantly better free recall than self-selecting controls (p < .001). Our results, overall, do not support the idea that caregiving is associated with stress-induced cognitive deficits. Rather, the trend toward better caregiver performance is consistent with the healthy caregiver hypothesis.
Collections Ireland -> Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland -> PubMed

Full list of authors on original publication

Maria M Pertl, Ian H Robertson, Caoimhe Hannigan, Brian A Lawlor, Sabina Brennan, Michael O'Sullivan

Experts in our system

Ian H Robertson
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 142
Caoimhe Hannigan
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 12
Brian Lawlor
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 85
Sabina Brennan
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 25