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Examining the Relationship between Reported Caregiver Empathy and Dyadic Outcomes: An Exploratory Conceptual Analysis of Dementia Care
AdvisorFisher, Jane E.
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This study explores the construct of caregiver empathy in dyads where the care recipient has dementia. The study hypothesizes that the two components of empathy, perspective-taking and empathic concern, impact both caregiver outcomes and the quality of care provided to the care recipient. The study utilizes both behavioral observation and self-report measures to examine the relationship between reported empathic responding and dyadic interactions, caregiver outcomes, care recipient outcomes, caregiver attributions about care recipient behavior, and relationship history. Results indicate that caregiver empathic responding is related to current caregiver functioning, care recipient status, and relationship history. While results did not indicate a relationship between caregiver empathic responding and observed behavioral interactions, caregiver self-report of criticism towards the care recipient was highly related to lower reports of empathic responding. Results also indicate that caregiver dispositional attributions about care recipient "problem" behavior are related to lower empathic concern and higher criticism. The results give evidence that empathic responding is an important caregiver process that warrants further examination as a clinically important for assessment and intervention. The study results and directions for further research are discussed.