Depression is common amongst people with dementia. This study examines whether locus of control (LoC), a perceived control construct influential in the coping process, is related to depressive symptoms in this population.
In this prospective observational study, 257 community-dwelling older adults with a confirmed dementia diagnosis were included. At baseline, measures of depressive symptoms, LoC, cognition, independent functional ability, general health, dementia severity, and dementia disease insight were collected. At follow-up, measures of depressive symptoms and cognition were collected. Multiple linear regression using degree of depressive symptoms as measured with Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale as a dependent variable was applied to assess whether LoC was associated with depressive symptoms at baseline and followup while controlling for covariates.
LoC (p < 0.001), general health (p = 0.003), and insight (p = 0.010) were associated with severity of depressive symptoms at baseline, accounting for 28% of the variance. LoC (p = 0.025) and depressive symptoms (p < 0.001) at baseline were associated with severity of depressive symptoms at follow-up, accounting for 56.3% of the variance.
LoC was significantly associated with severity of depressive symptoms in people with dementia at baseline and at follow-up. Attention to LoC may be valuable for our understanding of depression in people with dementia, and interventions targeting depression could benefit from including a focus on internalizing perceived control. However, these findings are novel, and more research is needed.