Self and next of kin's assessment of personality and sense of coherence in elderly people: Implications for dementia care

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Nurses sometimes fail to understand the behaviour of individuals with severe dementia. Information from a next of kin may help to bridge this communicative gap. One factor that influences a person's reaction to a disease is their personality and ability to cope with stress. The aim of this study was to evaluate the inter-rater agreement between healthy elderly people's self-assessment and the assessment made by a next of kin concerning personality and sense of coherence. The participants (n= 154) answered questions from the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) and the Antonovsky Sense of Coherence (SOC) scale. The study shows high or moderate agreement in ratings when analysed by means of an intra-class correlation coefficient (range between r = .57 and r = .72) and the results indicate that in general a close relative is able to report on the personality of a next of kin. The inter-rater agreement was high on SOC and extraversion and somewhat lower on neuroticism. For neuroticism, length of time in the relationship increased the odds for a good inter-rater agreement. Thus, seemingly a next of kin is a reliable informant for the elderly in general and is probably also able to add information useful in the nursing care of people with dementia.

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