Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Phillip J. Brantley


As the prevalence and diagnosis of dementia have become more clearly delineated, there has been an increasing focus on the consequences of dementia on the family members that care for these individuals. Much of the attention has focused on who provides care and what impact that caregiving has on them. It has been well documented that the patient's family is responsible for much of the caregiving. These caregivers often experience both a physical and psychological impact from their role. Because of these negative consequences, several studies have investigated interventions designed to reduce caregiver distress. Most of these studies have incorporated group treatments that incorporate education and social support with little attention to cognitive-behavioral interventions. This study was designed to compare a cognitive-behavioral treatment intervention with a social support group in a population of family caregivers of dementia patients. The social support group was similar to those previously described in the literature. The cognitive-behavioral group directly targeted the behaviors of the patient that have been related to caregiver burden as well as addressing the caregiver's reactions to stress. Caregivers were assessed in several domains including burden, depression, anxiety, social support, coping strategies, and cortisol levels. The results indicate that while both groups improved on several of these measures, neither group was superior to the other. The lack of a treatment difference was likely due to factors associated with this population (i.e., who was able to participate) as well as the potential benefit of components from both treatment approaches. Future investigations will be necessary to further explore the essential components of a group treatment for this population and how to include caregivers who cannot participate without respite assistance.