May 10, 2005

Schizophrenia Care-Giver illness

Read more... Schizophrenia Coping

Predictors of burden and infectious illness in schizophrenia caregivers

This research paper is rather old (published in 1999) but we just came across it, its interesting, and it highlights the stress that caregivers dealing with chronic mental illnesses experience amd the effects of that stress.

In essence, what the paper says is that people caring for people with schizophrenia undergo extremely high levels of stress that are dependent upon the active symptoms of schizophrenia, and that the higher the stress, the greater risk of illness of the caregiver. (so extra percautions need to be taken for the care-giver to take care of him or her self.)

The commentary in the paper suggests that:

Schizophrenia caregiving is a clinical situation which is highly stressful and in this study, schizophrenia caregiver stress levels were highly predictive of susceptibility to infectious illness.

"These data indicate that although schizophrenia caregiver burden and infectious illness are predicted by measures of patient stressors, vulnerabilities, and resources, the specific measures predicting these outcomes differ.

The results also call attention to the powerful influence of patient symptoms as a predictor of burden and the presence of infectious illness among caregivers."

Study Background:

In the study, a nurse interviewer, blind to the patient's symptoms, caregiver burden, and psychosocial status, administered the Health Review questionnaire to 70 schizophrenia caregivers.

A different interviewer, blind to caregiver health status and patient symptoms, assessed caregiver resources (e.g., active coping and social support), vulnerabilities (e.g., anger expression and passive coping) and burden.

At the same time, independent patient raters, blind to caregiver health and psychosocial status, assessed caregiver stressors. Other appropriate psychological assessment instruments evaluated the severity of positive (e.g., hallucinations and delusions) and negative (e.g., anhedonia and asociability) symptoms.

The measurement of the stressors, resources, and vulnerability factors accounted for 29% of the variance in infectious illness. Positive patient symptoms and dissatisfaction with social support were highly predictive of infectious illness episodes. Caregivers whose stress ratings placed them in the uppermost quartile were at four times the risk for infectious illness vs. those in the lowest quartile.

Source:  Predictors of burden and infectious illness in schizophrenia caregivers. Psychosom Med 1999 Jul-Aug; 61(4):411-19, Dyck DG ET AL.


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