The repercussions of mental disease in the family. A study of the family members of psychotic patients.

M G Pereira, J M de Almeida


Caregiving and related concepts such as family or caregiver burden have been widely discussed in recent literature. A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted in a sample (n = 80) of primary caregivers to severe mental patients (diagnosed schizophrenia, chronic psychosis or affective disorder).To describe the caregivers' and corresponding patients' sample, as well as the nature of existing relationships. Levels of caregiver burden and psychological distress were evaluated and a preliminary analysis conducted on objective and subjective burden correlation.Involvement Evaluation Questionnaire (IEQ), General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and a semi-structured interview designed for this purpose.The extent of burden was found significant in this sample, being unevenly distributed in its components (e.g. tension, worrying or financial burden). Forty-one percent of caregivers experienced minor psychiatric morbidity. Measures of objective and subjective burden were moderately correlated. The same applied to magnitude of associations between each of them and distress parameters. Higher levels of burden were found in groups of caregivers to more severely ill or disabled patients, while diagnosis was not important for this purpose.Most relatives remain highly involved. These results suggest the need to implement specific interventions addressing psychotic patients as well as their families.

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