Impact of three dementia-related behaviors on caregiver depression: The role of rejection of care, aggression, and agitation

Scott Seung W. Choi, Chakra Budhathoki, Laura N. Gitlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The relationship of specific dementia-related behaviors to caregiver depression and moderating factors is unclear. We examined the role of rejection of care, aggression, and agitation to caregiver depression and if social support and mastery independently moderated associations. Methods: The method used was a cross-sectional, secondary analysis using baseline data from two community-based clinical trials. We examined frequency of occurrence of presenting behaviors and their combinations in persons with dementia. Multiple logistic regression analyses examined associations between nonoverlapping behavioral clusters (agitation alone, agitation + rejection, agitation + aggression, and agitation + rejection + aggression) and caregiver depression. Multiple logistic regression with interaction terms was also used to investigate whether social support or caregiver mastery moderated the relationship between behavioral symptom clusters and caregiver depression. Results: Three of four symptom clusters (all three behaviors [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.22; 95% CI, 1.02-4.83], agitation + rejection of care [AOR = 2.55; 95% CI, 1.06-6.13], and agitation + aggression [AOR = 2.63; 95% CI, 1.17-5.89]) had a positive association with caregiver depression, whereas agitation alone was not significantly associated with caregiver depression. Neither social support nor mastery significantly moderated the relationship between these three behavioral clusters and caregiver depression. Conclusion: Caregiver depression was associated with different combinations of behaviors but not with agitation alone. These results have implications for intervention development and identifying caregivers at risk for depression. Level of social support and mastery does not appear to moderate impact on caregiver depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)966-973
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • aggression
  • agitation
  • caregiver depression
  • dementia
  • rejection of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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