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The Gerontologist 47:21-33 (2007)
© 2007 The Gerontological Society of America

Caregiver Objective Burden and Assessments of Patient-Centered, Family-Focused Care for Frail Elderly Veterans

Julia Hannum Rose, PhD1,2,3, Karen F. Bowman, PhD4, Elizabeth E. O'Toole, MD1, Katherine Abbott, PhD5, Thomas E. Love, PhD1,3, Charles Thomas3 and Neal V. Dawson, MD1,3

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Julia Hannum Rose, PhD, Department of Medicine—Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Case Western Reserve University, 2500 MetroHealth Drive, Cleveland, OH 44109. E-mail: Julia.Rose{at}

Purpose:There is a growing consensus that quality of care for frail elders should include family and be evaluated in terms of patient-centered, family-focused care (PCFFC). Family caregivers are in a unique and sometimes sole position to evaluate such care. In the context of caring for physically frail elders, this study examined the extent to which objective burden was associated with caregiver perceptions of PCFFC and the extent to which it mediated the influence of other variables on perceptions of PCFFC. Design and Methods: In a study of frail elderly veterans receiving care in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ambulatory primary care clinics, informal caregivers assessed quality of care with 13 questions. Factor analysis of these items revealed an eight-item scale that specifically assessed PCFFC ({alpha} =.90). Regression analysis identified variables associated with caregiver (N = 210) assessments of PCFFC and the potential mediating effect of objective burden.  Results: Caregiver assessments of PCFFC were positively associated with care recipient instrumental activity of daily living limitations (p =.04) and perspectives on the quality of their own patient care (p <.001). Greater objective burden was negatively associated with caregiver assessments of PCFFC (p <.001) and mediated (i.e., reduced) the relationship between care recipient perceptions of the quality of their own patient care and caregiver assessments of PCFFC ({Delta}R2 =.06). Implications: These findings support recommendations for conducting caregiver assessments as part of routine care and highlight the importance of measuring objective burden and expectations for PCFFC in assisting physically frail elders. Primary care providers will require additional training in order to effectively implement and translate such caregiver assessments into clinical practice improvement.

Key Words: Family-focused care • Caregiver burden • Quality of elder care

All GSA journals Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Copyright © 2007 by The Gerontological Society of America.