Assessing caregiver stress outcomes among First Nations people: A two-state comparison of caregiver stress outcomes between First Nations people and Whites

Debora E. Archer
Dept. of Sociology, University of Kansas
July, 2006


Pearlin's (1989) theory of caregiver stress outcomes model, depicts the effects of ascribed statuses such as race and ethnicity and their influence upon the intensity of stress outcomes. This project investigated Pearlin's (1989) concept of embedded social environments acting as independent variables upon stress outcomes. This study investigated the levels of stress outcomes of caregiving stress between First Nations People caregivers of relatives with dementia or Alzheimer's disease (AD) and White caregivers of relatives with dementia or AD in two states. Stress outcomes, the dependent variable was operationalized from a depression scale in self-appraisals of caregivers who completed a client intake survey as they enrolled in respite care programs in New Mexico and Alaska established through the Alzheimer's Disease Demonstration Grant projects of the federal Agency on Aging. The primary stressors or independent variables from the client intake survey were: functional abilities (Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living), problem behaviors, caregiver tasks, objective burden, subjective stress burden and subjective demand burden scales. Data was collected from N = 84 caregivers within the two states, which included a total of three reservation sites. A primary research question was: what are the levels of stress outcomes among First Nations People compared with stress outcomes among Whites? Considering the social structural strain of being a marginal group, and the effects of generational oppression experienced by First Nations People from the effects of ongoing European colonialism, the main hypothesis states that there would a higher level in stress outcomes for First Nations People caregivers than for White caregivers. Data were analyzed using univariate, and bivariate descriptives, and multiple linear regression analysis. Qualitative historical research provided the contextual background for the structural strains of generational oppression on First Nations People. Regression analyses did not support the hypothesis; there was no significant difference in stress outcomes for First Nations People caregivers than for Whites. This indicates need for future research to explain this phenomenon in light of ongoing disenfranchisement of First Nations People.