The impact of care giving on the quality of life caregivers of patients with schizophrenia

Mtshali, Thokozani
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Introduction: Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness, which is often characterized by a relapsing course with resultant effects on most areas of functioning due to the disability associated with it. The presence of any of the symptoms of schizophrenia can be extremely distressing for the families or caregivers who care for the patient. The term caregiver burden arose following the deinstitutionalization of mental health patients that was associated with integration of patients with severe mental illnesses into the community. Limited data of caregiver burden and its relationship with quality of life (QOL) is available in South Africa. The aim of the present study is to describe the nature of caregiver burden and to describe the relationship between caregiver burden and QOL. Methods: The study is descriptive and cross-sectional in nature and was conducted at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital from February 2014 to October 2014. Data was collected from caregivers of patients with schizophrenia in the form of questionnaires. Caregiver burden was assessed by the use of a Caregiver Strain Index questionnaire with a score greater than 7 suggesting a high caregiver burden. Quality of life was assessed with the World Health Organization Quality of Life brief questionnaire; it is scored on six domains each of which contributes to the caregiver’s overall impression of their quality of life. Results: Of the 127 participants identified for the study, eight six participated. Significant factors associated with higher caregiver burden were as follows: increased number of admissions per year, caring for adults less within the ages of 46-55 years, caring for patients with psychosocial stressors and living in a household with 3 to 4 people. Conclusion: The relationship between caregiver burden and caregiver QOL suggested that as caregiver burden increases, QOL decreases.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment for the requirements for the degree of Master of Medicine in Psychiatry Johannesburg, 2017