Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Construct: Caregiver stress and depression

Description of Measure: This 18-item, caregiver self-report measure was devised by the American Medical Association as a means of helping physicians assess the stress-levels of family caregivers accompanying chronically ill older adult patients to their medical visits. Caregivers are asked to respond either “Yes” or “No” to a series of statements, such as “During the past week or so, I have felt completely overwhelmed” and “During the past week or so, I have felt strained between work and family responsibilities.”

AssessmentFor item #17, family caregivers are asked to rate their level of stress on a 1-10 basis. For item #18, they are asked to rate their perception of their current health in comparison to their health 1 year ago. A simple scoring system allows family caregiver themselves to score their results and to determine whether or not they are highly stressed. The accompanying scoring sheet suggests that, if they are highly stressed, they consider seeing a doctor for a check-up for themselves and reaching out for caregiver support services. The phone numbers and websites for several caregiver resources, including the Eldercare Locator, are listed.

The questionnaire and scoring forms, available in English and Spanish versions, are downloadable for free from the American Medical Association website.

A short description of the instrument on the AMA website states that the questionnaire was normed on a small national sample of family caregivers (n=60). It states that the reliability coefficient alpha was .7804. It also states that specific items were found to be predictive of caregiver stress.

A recent study suggests that the questionnaire also may be a valid instrument for assessing caregiver depression. Epstein-Lubow et al. (2010) found that scores on the questionnaire from a sample group of 106 family caregivers correlated highly with their scores from reliable and valid caregiver depression instruments, including the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. The authors reported that the Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire’s sensitivity to predict significant depressive symptoms is 0.98, with a specificity of 0.52.

Reference

Epstein-Lubow, G., Gaudiano, BA, Hinckley, M., Salloway, S., Miller, & I.W. (2010). Evidence for the validity of the American Medical Association’s Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire as a screening measure for depression. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 58(2), 387-388.