Evaluating patient brain and behavior pathways to caregiver health in neurodegenerative diseases

Alice Y. Hua, Jenna L. Wells, Claudia M. Haase, Kuan Hua Chen, Howard J. Rosen, Bruce L. Miller, Robert W. Levenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Caregivers of patients with neurodegenerative diseases are at heightened risk for serious health problems, but health differences between individual caregivers abound. Aims: To determine whether atrophy in patient brains could be used to identify caregivers at heightened risk for health problems and which patient variables mediate this relationship. Methods: In 162 patient-caregiver dyads, we assessed patient atrophy using structural MRI, caregiver health, and patient behavior and cognitive symptoms. Results: Patient atrophy in the right insula and medial frontal gyrus was associated with worse caregiver health; this relationship was partially mediated by patient neuropsychiatric symptoms, and assessing atrophy in these regions improved predictions of poor caregiver health above and beyond patient behavioral symptoms. Conclusions: This study shows the value of patients' brain data in identifying caregivers at risk for becoming sick themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-54
Number of pages13
JournalDementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Caregiver health
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Patient behavioral symptoms
  • Patient cognitive symptoms
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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