Burden and psychological effects : caregiver experiences in a psychiatric outpatient unit in Lagos, Nigeria
Objective: Worldwide, research into experiences of care givers are gradually increasing and their central role in community care is being acknowledged. Caregivers experience a multidimensional range of problems, often associated with their caregiving role. It becomes important to identify these areas of burden and provide necessary support. The study sought to determine the prevalence of psychological distress and experience of burden of care among the caregivers of mentally ill patients. Method: A cross sectional descriptive study. Eligible consecutive subjects were recruited to the study over a 6 month period. Fifty three caregiver relatives of patients diagnosed with a psychiatric illness were assessed using the General Health questionnaire version 12, an Adapted Burden of Care (BOC) Schedule and a Sociodemographic questionnaire. Results: The caregivers were 51% male and 49% female. Most were above 35years in age (66.1%). They were either parents (38.8%), siblings (18.4%), uncle/aunt (14.3%), first cousin (12.2%) or other extended relatives (16.3%). Almost half of the relatives had psychological distress (43.8%) and most of which (63%) had more burden. The mean score on the BOC among the caregivers was 41 (±18.68SD), with scores ranging from 0.00-89.00, and 45.3% of relatives experiencing more than average burden of care. Conclusion: There is a significant level of burden and psychological distress experienced by caregivers in this study location. It is recommended that effectively planned interventions are targeted at alleviating this burden and at improving the ability of caregivers to cope, within the Nigerian mental health service delivery system.
Key Words: Caregiver; Burden; Patients; Psychiatry; Nigeria