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Marital relationship quality in early-stage dementia: Perspectives from people with dementia and their spouses

Martyr, Anthony; Clare, Linda; Nelis, Sharon M.; Markova, Ivana S.; Roth, Ilona; Woods, Robert T.; Whitaker, Christopher J.; Morris, Robin G.


Anthony Martyr

Linda Clare

Sharon M. Nelis

Ilona Roth

Robert T. Woods

Christopher J. Whitaker

Robin G. Morris


Spouse caregivers of people with dementia (PwD) report relatively poor marital relationship quality (RQ), but few studies have obtained the perspective of the PwD, examined discrepancies between spouses, or considered changes in RQ over time. This study explored caregiver and PwD perceptions of RQ, identified associated factors, and examined changes over an 18-month period. Participants were 54 couples where one spouse had early-stage dementia and 54 were control couples. RQ was assessed with the Positive Affect Index. Measures of mood, stress, and quality of life (QoL) were also administered. The clinical couples were followed up after 9 and 18 months. Caregivers gave significantly lower RQ ratings than controls. PwD ratings did not differ significantly from those of caregivers or controls. Dyadic discrepancies were significantly greater in the clinical than in the control group. Caregiver ratings were associated with stress, whereas PwD ratings were associated with depression and QoL. Discrepancies were associated with caregiver stress and with PwD mood, QoL, and age. Caregiver ratings declined significantly over time; PwD ratings did not decline significantly, but showed different trends for men and women. It is important to consider RQ when considering how to support couples where one partner has early-stage dementia.


Martyr, A., Clare, L., Nelis, S. M., Markova, I. S., Roth, I., Woods, R. T., …Morris, R. G. (2012). Marital relationship quality in early-stage dementia: Perspectives from people with dementia and their spouses. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 26(2), 148-158.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Feb 2, 2012
Publication Date Apr 1, 2012
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders
Print ISSN 0893-0341
Publisher Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 2
Pages 148-158
Keywords Alzheimer. caregiver, equity theory, marital satisfaction, quality of life, vascular dementia,
Public URL
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