Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lois Layne, Karlene Ball, Sally Kuhlenschmidt

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


A review of the research on family caregivers of the frail elderly indicates that although caregivers often experience high levels of burden, they make only minimal use of available professional, or formal, services. A theoretical model of helping and coping proposed by Brickman, Rabinowitz, Karuza, Coates, Cohn, and Kidder (1982) suggests that attributions of responsibility for causing and for solving problems define four distinct attributional styles, each determining how people will respond to outside help. The current study of 40 family caregivers attempted to validate an attribution instrument based on the Brickman et al. (1982) model, and to determine whether scores from the instrument were predictive of formal service use. Four models were hypothesized to be identified through factor analysis, each coinciding with one of Brickman's attributional styles. It was also hypothesized that score totals for each of the attributional style models would be predictive of formal service use. Neither hypothesis was supported. However, evidence which did not reach statistical significance suggests the existence of the models in this group. Also, regression analysis found several demographic variables to be predictive of formal service use. These include; care receiver age, caregiver education level, and whether or not the caregiver lives with the care-receiver. Caution must be taken in generalizing the findings from this study due to the questionable validity of the measurement instruments and to the small sample size. Suggested future research includes further validation work on the assessment instruments, and the recruitment of a larger sample group.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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