British Journal of Health Psychology

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Volume 16 Issue 3 (September 2011), Pages 457-674

Family caregivers’ attributions about care‐recipient behaviour: Does caregiver relationship satisfaction mediate the attribution‐distress relationship? (pages 642-659)

Objectives.  The relations of caregiver attributions about care‐recipient's problem behaviour to caregiving relationship satisfaction and caregiver distress were examined.

Design.  This is a cross sectional study. Seventy‐five family caregivers of individuals diagnosed with various disabling health conditions were recruited and interviewed. Caregiver attributions (internality, intentionality, responsibility, and controllability), caregiving relationship satisfaction, and caregiver distress variables were measured.

Results.  Structural equation techniques tested an a priori model of the latent constructs of caregiver attributions and caregiver relationship satisfaction to caregiver distress. Maladaptive caregiver attributions (i.e., more trait, higher intentionality, higher responsibility, and higher controllability) about care‐recipients’ problem behaviours predicted lower caregiving relationship satisfaction, which in turn was predictive of higher caregiver distress. Unexpectedly, caregiver attributions were not directly related to caregiver distress. However, attributions had an indirect effect on distress through relationship satisfaction. Younger caregivers experienced higher caregiver distress.

Conclusions.  Caregivers’ explanations about care‐recipient's problem behaviour are indicative of their satisfaction in the relationship with the care recipient, and poor caregiving relationship satisfaction is predictive of caregiver distress. Caregiver attributions and relationship quality may be considered in interventions with family caregivers.

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