Pan African Medical Journal

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Burden of care amongst caregivers who are first degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia

Chinwe Frances Inogbo, Sunday Osasu Olotu, Bawo Onesirosan James, Emmanuel Okechukwu Nna


Introduction: Caring for a mentally ill family member is a challenging task. Caregivers who are first-degree relatives (FDR) are at a higher risk of experiencing the negative consequences of caregiving. This study was aimed at determining burden of care and its correlates in caregivers who are first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia. Methods: A dyad of 255 patients and caregivers was recruited. A socio-demographic questionnaire was administered to both. The GHQ-12 was used to screen for psychiatric morbidity in the FDRs. Caregiver's burden was assessed with the Zarit Burden Interview. Patients' illness severity and level of functioning were assessed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale and the Global Assessment of Functioning scales respectively. Results: The mean ± SD age of caregivers and patients were 45.1 ±12.3 and 36.7 ±13.4 years respectively. About 49% of caregivers experienced high burden of care. Older caregiver's age (r = 0.179; p < 0.004) and greater illness severity (r = 0.332; p < 0.0001) in the patient had weak to moderate positive correlation with burden of care. Caregiver's burden also increased with poorer functioning of the patient (r = -0.467 p < 0.0001). Independent predictors of caregiver burden were low level of education of the caregiver (OR 2.45; 95% CI 1.27-4.73), psychiatric morbidity in the caregiver (OR 6.74; 95% CI 2.51-18.15) and poor patient functioning (OR 2.81; 95% CI 1.27-6.18). Conclusion: Caregivers who are first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia experience varying degrees of burden of care during caregiving. Routine screening and early psychological intervention would help to ameliorate these negative consequences of caregiving.

AJOL African Journals Online