Date of Award

Winter 5-3-2023

Thesis Access

Open Access Honors Thesis

Thesis Location

Honors College Thesis

Degree Name




Faculty Advisor

Dr. Amanda Leggett, Ph.d


Background: Family caregivers for a person living with dementia (PLwD) can experience stress and burden which may relate to health consequences such as poor sleep quality. This study aimed to 1) examine the association between caregiver employment status and sleep quality and 2) understand how this association may be moderated by the relationship of the caregiver to the PLwD.

Methods: A sample of primary caregivers for a PLwD (N = 100) were interviewed in person in 2017. A linear regression with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) global score as the outcome and employment status as the key predictor, and an interaction of spousal relationship by employment status was conducted, testing to see whether spousal relationship moderated the employment-sleep quality association.

Results: Participants were 74% female, 55% were 65 years of age or older, and 82% self-identified as white. Caregivers on average were providing 54 hours of care per week. Caregivers providing care for PLwDs with greater dementia severity reported worse sleep quality (β = 0.07, SE = 0.03, p < 0.05). Spousal caregiver status moderated the association between employment and sleep quality such that employed spouses had significantly worse sleep quality (β = 0.97, SE = 1.99, p < 0.01).

Discussion: Findings indicate that employed spousal caregivers may be particularly vulnerable to deleterious effects of care on health. It is important to provide interventions for caregivers to improve sleep quality for their own health and to provide the best care for PLwDs.