Objectives: Psychological effects of supporting someone with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are often overlooked. We aimed to establish correlates of psychological distress in study partners of individuals with and without nonclinical MCI.Methods: Demographic, psychosocial and health measures were obtained cross-sectionally from 714 participants (39% MCI) and study partners of a longitudinal community-based study on cognitive aging. Study partners (i.e. family members/friends) were categorized as providing support with instrumental everyday activities or not. Psychological distress was measured by the Kessler psychological distress scale. Multiple hierarchical regressions examined determinants of psychological distress within Pearlin's stress process model.Results: Psychological distress was generally low and not associated with MCI or whether study partners provided support or not. Instead, distress was greater if participants were male irrespective of study partners sex and if study partners reported negative reactions to participants behavioral symptoms, felt burdened by providing support and showed worse coping abilities; overall explaining 37% variance. Self-rated disability and aspects of health-related quality of life explained additional 7%.Conclusion: Objective impairment measures were not associated with distress in partners or supporters. However, study partners appraisals of functional and behavioral symptoms were linked to increased distress even in this very mildly affected community cohort.
- Instrumental activities of daily living
- Prodromal dementia