Caregiver Burden in a Community Mental Health Program — a Cross Sectional Study


Background: As mental health services in the community are ill-developed, in India, the care of individuals with mental illness lies mostly with the family. Studies elsewhere have shown that families of patients with mental illness have significant levels of caregiver burden, and that such burden has negative consequences on both the patients and the caregivers.

Methods: A cross sectional study assessed 46 randomly selected individuals with mental illness registered in a community mental health program and their caregivers. Burden Assessment Schedule and WHO Disability Assessment Scale were employed, and socio-demographic and clinical variables were assessed.

Results: The most common diagnosis was psychosis (28.3%), and the caregiver was most commonly the mother (32.6%). The mean score on the WHODAS was 26.48 ± 7.48. The mean levels of caregiver burden on the BAS were — impact on wellbeing: 7.28 ± 2.66, impact on marital relations: 8.10 ± 3.07, appreciation for caregiving: 6.09 ± 1.88, impact on relations with others: 6.67 ± 2.42, and perceived severity of disease: 7.26 ± 2.51. The female and illiterate caregivers reported significantly more burden. Levels of caregiver burden were not associated with any other clinical or sociodemographic variables.

Conclusion: Significant levels of caregiver burden were present in the sample of predominantly female caregivers. The resources within mental health services of this country need to be improved to address this aspect. The possible benefits of community-based services in this context are discussed.


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