Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Brian Carpenter


Research suggests that family caregivers of people with dementia may experience grief prior to the death of their care recipients, in part because of the series of losses they experience and the chronic nature of caregiving. Methods for assessing predeath grief, however, are just beginning to be developed, and basic questions about measurement remain. The purpose of the current study was to identify areas of overlap and disjunction in two self-report measures of predeath grief, one adapted from the postdeath literature: the Prolonged Grief Disorder Inventory) and one designed specifically for use with dementia caregivers: the Marwit-Meuser Caregiver Grief Inventory-Short Form). Results from 202 spousal and adult child caregivers of people with dementia suggest that grief is an important component of the caregiving experience, and that it is related to, but distinct from, depression. Based on their psychometric properties and on confirmatory factor analyses, both measures appear to be appropriate for use with dementia caregivers. There were several areas of overlap between the measures in terms of their relationships with characteristics of caregivers and of the caregiving situation: e.g., spousal versus adult child relationship with the care recipient), although these associations varied somewhat across subscales. One area of discrepancy between the measures was the number of caregivers identified as potentially in need of intervention; the Prolonged Grief Disorder Inventory was a more conservative tool. This dissertation represents an important first step in understanding the grief experienced by dementia caregivers. Future research is needed to determine if predeath grief as measured by each instrument is predictive of long-term distress and dysfunction in the context of longitudinal studies.


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