Physical and emotional symptom burden and advanced chronic illness: dyadic concordance
Over 40 million Americans act as an informal caregiver to someone over the age of 65. While there are many benefits to informal caregiving, research has highlighted associated challenges, such as accurately understanding the care recipient's medical and emotional symptoms. The current study aims to understand symptom reporting of informal caregivers by examining dyadic concordance of physical and emotional symptom reports. In addition to examining baseline correlations with demographic and psychosocial variables, the study examines a reminiscence and creative activity project as a possible intervention to increase concordance. Participants included 45 African American or Caucasian dyads, comprised of one chronically-ill older adult and one caregiver. Pearson correlations and six mixed ANOVAs were performed. Concordance was examined for symptom presence/absence as well as associated symptom distress. Physical and emotional symptom concordance were examined separately. Results indicated only two demographic variables (caregiver income adequacy and care recipient education) significantly related to concordance. Caregiver stress was related to lower concordance as was care recipient negative affect. Higher symptom reports by the care recipient were associated with decreased concordance for physical but not emotional symptoms and distress. Results of the ANOVAs indicated no improvement in concordance for intervention dyads compared to control dyads (N=28). Results are discussed in light of previous research on concordance as well s a model of caregiving stress. Limitations and future directions are discussed.