The Thoughts Questionnaire (TQ) for family caregivers of people with dementia

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Abstract

Objectives:

To develop a new measure of dysfunctional thoughts for family caregivers of people living with dementia. These thoughts can contribute to negative outcomes, but they may be modifiable.

Method:

A stepwise process was used to develop the Thoughts Questionnaire, commencing with item generation, concept mapping, and pilot testing in a sample of professional and nonprofessional caregivers of people with dementia (n = 18). Next, an independent sample of 35 family caregivers of people with dementia (30 female; Mage = 64.30, standard deviation = 10.65) completed: (a) the Thoughts Questionnaire; (b) an existing measure of dysfunctional thoughts, the Dementia Thoughts Caregivers Questionnaire; and (c) separate validated measures of depressive symptoms, caregiver stress, and coping, respectively.

Results:

The level of agreement with dysfunctional thought statements from the Dementia Thoughts Caregivers Questionnaire and Thoughts Questionnaire was low. However, a small number of Thoughts Questionnaire statements were strongly endorsed by over 85% of the sample. Both dysfunctional thought measures had adequate reliability, but total scores were not significantly intercorrelated (r = .287, p = .095). Only the Thoughts Questionnaire was significantly, positively correlated with most caregiver stress measures. Thoughts Questionnaire items required a much lower reading level than the Dementia Thoughts Caregivers Questionnaire items.

Discussion:

This study provides preliminary data on a tool for assessing the negative role-related thoughts that family caregivers of people with dementia may experience. Given that these thoughts are implicated in depression but they may be modified, the capacity to identify dysfunctional thoughts may prove useful in caregiver support programs.

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