Relationship Continuity and Emotional Well-Being in Spouses of People with Dementia

Gerard Riley, Laura Evans, Janet Oyebode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
293 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: On the basis of qualitative research on spousal experiences of their relationship with a partner who has dementia, it has been suggested that experiences of discontinuity in the relationship (i.e. the relationship and the person with dementia are experienced as radically changed from what they were before the onset of the dementia) may contribute to heightened feelings of burden, entrapment, isolation, guilt and intolerance of behaviours that challenge. By contrast, experiences of continuity in the relationship (i.e. the relationship and the person are experienced as essentially unchanged) may contribute to a greater sense of achievement and gratification from providing care. The present study served as a quantitative test of these suggestions.
Method: A convenience sample of 71 spouses of people with dementia completed three questionnaires – the Zarit Burden Interview, the Positive Aspects of Caregiving measure, and the Birmingham Relationship Continuity Measure.
Results: In accordance with the hypotheses, the experience of greater relationship continuity (higher BRCM scores) was highly correlated with fewer negative emotional reactions to caregiving (lower ZBI scores; rho = -.795) and more positive emotional reactions (higher PAC scores; rho = .764).
Conclusions: The study provided some quantitative support for suggestions arising from qualitative research about how perceptions of continuity/discontinuity in the relationship may impact on the caregiving spouse’s emotional well-being. Helping couples sustain a sense of continuity and couplehood may assist with their emotional adjustment to dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-305
Number of pages7
JournalAging & Mental Health
Issue number3
Early online date3 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Dementia
  • spouses
  • burden
  • positive aspects of care-giving
  • well-being
  • couplehood
  • relationship continuity


Dive into the research topics of 'Relationship Continuity and Emotional Well-Being in Spouses of People with Dementia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this