Finding fault: Criticism as a care management strategy and its impact on outcomes for dementia caregivers

Amanda N. Leggett, Helen C. Kales, Laura N. Gitlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Despite a large literature on the stress process, little attention has focused on how caregivers for persons living with dementia (PLWDs) provide care and how this may impact care outcomes. Criticism is a management strategy caregivers may use to respond to behavioral symptoms. We consider whether criticism is associated with caregivers' mental health and service utilization. Methods: Data are drawn from the Advancing Caregiver Training intervention study including 256 informal caregivers living with a PLWD. In multiple linear regressions controlling for caregivers' demographics and PLWDs' clinical factors, we consider criticism (criticism subscale of the Dementia Management Strategies Scale) as a predictor of caregiver burden, depressive symptoms, desire to institutionalize the PLWD, level of frustration with care, and the number of home-based, social, and health services utilized. Results: On average, 15% of the sample sometimes reported using criticism as a management strategy to manage the challenges of care. Greater use of criticism was associated with significantly more caregiver burden (β = 0.26, P < 0.001) and frustration with caregiving (β = 0.66, P < 0.001), but not depressive symptoms or a desire to institutionalize the PLWD. Criticism was also associated with significantly greater utilization of home-based (β = 0.14, P < 0.05) and social services (β = 0.15, P < 0.05), but not health care services. Conclusion: Criticism appears to be used by more burdened and frustrated caregivers. The association of criticism with social and home-based services potentially reflects a need for greater support among this group of caregivers. Behavioral interventions that can help caregivers manage behavioral symptoms with positive, empirically validated strategies may be helpful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-577
Number of pages7
JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • care management
  • caregiving
  • criticism
  • dementia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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