Objective: To determine the emotional and social distress of caring for a patient with Parkinson's disease and to explore the impact of motor and mental symptoms in subjects with Parkinson's disease on their caregivers' situation.
Design: Cross-sectional, population-based study using self-report questionnaires to measure caregiver distress and rating scales to assess patient symptomatology.
Setting: Neurology and old age psychiatry services in Stavanger, Norway.
Subjects: Caregivers of 94 home-dwelling patients with Parkinson's disease. Two control groups (patients with diabetes mellitus and healthy elderly).
Outcome measures: Measures of social and emotional distress in caregivers, including the Relative Stress Scale, Beck Depression Inventory and the General Health Questionnaire.
Results: Caregivers, in particular spouses, had more severe depression and a higher proportion reporting tiredness, sadness and less satisfaction with life compared with healthy elderly subjects. Using linear regression analysis, patient predictors of caregiver distress were depression, functional and cognitive impairment, agitation, aberrant motor behaviour and delusions.
Conclusions: Caring for a spouse with Parkinson's disease is associated with emotional and social distress, underlining the importance of also assessing the needs of carers. Mental symptoms of parkinsonian patients were the most consistent and powerful predictors of caregiver distress, suggesting that identification and treatment of mental symptoms may reduce distress in caregivers of subjects with Parkinson's disease.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.