Family responsibilities and social expectations often prompt conflict in caregivers’ decision-making processes. Janis and Mann’s (1977) conflict model describes vigilance as high-quality decision-making resulting in optimal outcomes. The purpose of this study was threefold: (1) to describe decision styles in a population of family caregivers of persons with dementia; (2) to examine the socio-economic characteristics associated with caregivers who are more likely to be vigilant decision-makers; and (3) to assess differences in caregiving experiences between vigilant and non-vigilant caregivers.
[Photo: Dr. Yelena Tarasenko]
The analysis was based on 639 survey respondents recruited from a university-affiliated memory disorders clinic. A typical caregiver was Caucasian non-Hispanic, was currently married, and had two children. Approximately half of the sample used a ‘pure vigilant’ decision style. Vigilance was associated with more positive and fewer negative caregiving outcomes.
In conclusion, supporting caregivers to become vigilant decision-makers is a functionally viable intervention that could significantly improve the caregiving experience.
“Does vigilance in decision-making matter for dementia family caregivers?,” was recently published in Aging & Mental Health.
Dr. Sarah Wackerbarth, associate professor of health management & policy at the University of Kentucky was the lead author and Dr. Yelena Tarasenko, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health Georgia Southern University was the co-author.