The burden in caregivers of schizophrenic patients

Marcelo Machado de Almeida Virgínia Torres Schal Alberto Mesaque Martins Celina Maria Modena About the authors

INTRODUCTION: The Brazilian psychiatric reform has led to new mental health care practices associated with the de-hospitalization process. Previously treated at hospitals, patients suffering from schizophrenia now receive treatment within the community, shedding light on a new type of care provider involved in this treatment modality, namely the caregiver. OBJECTIVE: To assess factors associated with burden in caregivers of schizophrenic patients. METHOD: Burden factors were assessed using a qualitative method appropriate to the analysis of meanings, motivations, beliefs, aspirations, values, and attitudes. The study was conducted at a Psychosocial Attention Center located in the countryside of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. A total of 15 caregivers were interviewed, selected based on the criteria of saturation and singularity of speeches. The phenomenological method was used to analyze the interviews. RESULTS: The speeches of caregivers revealed the following factors as significantly associated with burden: daily care activities, changes in the routine, decrease in leisure, health problems, preoccupations, fear of becoming sick, obligation of providing care, treatment costs, financial aspects, and expectations for the future. Four factors associated with the reduction of burden were identified: social and family support, availability of places/opportunities for caregivers to relieve tensions, physical distance from the patient, and appreciation of the pharmacological treatment. CONCLUSION: There is a need to implement programs designed specifically for caregivers, once their speeches have suggested that the care of schizophrenic patients may have a negative and permanent impact on the lives of these care providers.

Caregiver; schizophrenia; family; qualitative research

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