Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Douglas Ferraro

Number of Pages



Recent data on the prevalence of Alzhiemer's disease estimate that sufferers could number as high as 4.78 million; that number is expected to quadruple by the year 2050. The vast majority of persons with dementia reside in the community, able to do so because of the care received from their families. The increase in the number of the elderly dependent on others for assistance will continue to increase, straining already limited individual and societal resources. The subjects of this study were Alzheimer's disease and related dementia (ADRD) familial caregivers, representing a portion of society needing assistance and that is growing both in sheer numbers and overall percentage of the population. Caregivers dealing with the symptoms of a gradual, progressive, irreversible neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer's face numerous emotional, psychological, social, and financial demands that classify ADRD caregiving as a chronic stressor. In addition, familial caregivers are often elderly themselves, and are at an increased risk for injury, illness, and they face an exacerbation of already declining immune system function due to chronic stress; This study was an attempt to enhance immune system functioning and reduce subjective stress levels in the familial caregivers of Alzheimer's disease and related dementia (ADRD) patients. In order to accomplish that objective, a controlled comparison between a cognitively based stress management intervention (CBSM) and a no-treatment control group was conducted. This study also attempted to make a contribution to the existing body of knowledge in the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) by addressing the complicated inter-relationship between psychological stress and immune system functioning. To that end, study participants were tested with several measures of psychological performance, such as the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D), the Ways of Coping-Revised (WOCR), Profile of Mood States (POMS), and the Personal Views Survey III-Revised (PVS-III-R), as well as one measure of immune system function, plasma levels of interleukin-6.


Behavioral; Caregivers; Cognitive; Cognitive-behavioral; Controlled; Distress; Dementia; Familial; Family Caregivers; Function; Immune; Immune Function; Intervention; Psychological; Psychological Distress; Trial

Controlled Subject

Clinical psychology; Gerontology; Immunology

File Format


File Size

5621.76 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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