Family caregiver challenges in dementia care in Australia and China: a critical perspective

Dongxia Xiao, Jing Wang, Guoping He, Anita De Bellis, Jennifer Verbeeck, Helena Kyriazopoulos

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    56 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Both Australia and China have a large proportion of people with dementia and the prevalence will triple in Australia and increase five times in China by 2050. The majority of people with dementia are reliant on family caregivers to provide daily care and to maintain the dignity in both countries. As a consequence, caregiver burden has become a major concern because of the negative impact on the care recipients' and the caregivers' health. It is strongly recommended that cross-national collaboration should be conducted to share experiences in fighting dementia. The aim of this study was to compare socially and culturally constructed enablers and barriers pertinent to dementia caregivers in one capital city in Australia and one capital city in China through critical reflection on the caregivers' subjective and objective experiences for the improvement of dementia care services in both countries. Methods. Giddens' Structuration Theory was used as a framework to guide a concurrent mixed methods design with the qualitative strand as a priority. In the qualitative strand, data were collected by focus groups and in-depth interviews while in the quantitative strand, data were collected by questionnaire survey. Results: In total 148 caregivers participated in the project with 57 of them from Australia (26 and 31 in the qualitative and quantitative strands respectively) and 91 of them from China (23 and 68 in the qualitative and quantitative strands respectively). Findings from the qualitative and quantitative strands were presented as three categories: A higher objective burden in the Chinese cohort versus a higher subjective burden in the Australian cohort; Unmet need for caregiver support in Australia and China; and Expectations for improving dementia services in Australia and for developing dementia services in China. Conclusions: Dementia policy, services and resources need to be grounded on current research evidence in an ever-changing society like China. In Australia, dementia services need to have more components of preventing or reducing caregivers' subjective burden. As subjective burden is mediated by culture, caregiver support mechanisms should consider caregivers' needs associated with their cultural values.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number6
    Number of pages13
    JournalBMC Geriatrics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2014


    • Caregivers
    • Cross-cultural studies
    • Dementia
    • Dementia policy
    • Dementia services


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