BACKGROUND The symptoms of dementia are the most obvious stressors to which caregivers are exposed and many studies have investigated the association of such symptoms with the adverse consequences of caring. The present paper represents the only dedicated review of this literature.
METHOD Manual and computer (MEDLINE) literature searches were performed.
RESULTS Seventeen empirical studies were found.
CONCLUSIONS Variability in conceptual and methodological approaches and inconsistencies in the reported findings have prevented firm conclusions from being drawn. However, the literature provided support for a relationship between non-cognitive features in dementia and psychological problems in caregivers, and suggested possible associations between cognitive deficits and some negative care-giver outcomes. New methodological and conceptual approaches are required if decisive evidence is to be forthcoming. This information is a prerequisite for investigations into the causal mechanisms that sustain these relationships, and for rationally designed interventions.