Context: Family members of liver transplant patients continue caregiving activities for a lengthy period after transplantation.
Objectives: To assess the effect of stress-related factors on psychological distress and perceived health of family caregivers of liver transplant recipients.
Setting and participants: Twenty-four caregivers of liver transplant recipients treated at a liver unit serving the northern part of Israel.
Main outcome measures: Pearlin's caregiving stress questionnaire was administered to assess the subscales of patients' symptoms as perceived by caregivers, caregiving activities, perceived overload, relational deprivation, personal gain, and social support; also, a depression questionnaire and a perceived caregivers' health questionnaire were administered to participants.
Results: Caregivers experienced considerable caregiving overload. Women reported performing more caregiving activities, higher perceived overload, and higher level of depression than men. Increasing passage of time since transplantation, higher perceived overload, higher sense of relational deprivation, and lower sense of personal gain were significantly associated with higher level of depression and worse perceived health. Perceived support and level of depression were not significantly associated with perceived health.
Conclusions: Caregiving stress endures after transplantation. Professional intervention is needed to improve caregivers' quality of life and, consequently, that of transplant recipients as well.