Support Seeking Tactics Used by Family Caregivers of Relatives With Dementia: Influences on Network Support and Caregiving Burden

Karen E. Schlag, Zhengyu Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social support for family members who care for a relative with dementia can mitigate caregiving burden. Yet, in that evidence points to these caretakers as often experiencing isolation and loneliness while providing dementia-related care, a need remains to better understand factors contributing to their adverse support experiences. Accordingly, this study applies sensitive interaction systems theory (SIST) to examine how caregivers’ direct versus indirect support-seeking behaviors relate to the quality of support responses they receive from a member of their social network. Associations between network support responses and caregiving burden are also investigated. Family caregivers (n = 411) completed a Qualtrics survey. Results from path analysis indicated that family caregivers’ direct support seeking was related to supportive responses from a network member, while their indirect tactics to gain assistance predicted unsupportive reactions. Supportive and unsupportive network responses to family caregivers' support seeking were both related to greater caregiving burden. Additionally, indirect support seeking predicted greater caregiving burden, while this relationship was also partially mediated by unsupportive network responses. Findings highlight the utility of marriage and family counseling efforts to help family caregivers identify and practice strategies for communicating their varying dementia-care support needs to others while also managing unconstructive responses shared within their social network. Caregivers may additionally benefit from counseling to help them to develop coping skills beyond support seeking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • caregiving burden
  • dementia
  • family caregivers
  • support seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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