Aim: The task of managing care for patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) often falls upon a family member taking on the role as a caregiver (CG) implying a burden on these CGs. The aim of this study was to evaluate CG strain of PD patients with regarding different psychosocial domains and the influence of PD/CG duration of PD.
Methods: A cross-sectional telephone interview survey of 451 CGs randomly selected from the registry of the Swedish Parkinson's Disease Association. A structured questionnaire covering sociodemographic, psychosocial, and general CG factors, sleep and depression of the CG as well as issues of the patient's disease was used by 4 independent interviewers blinded to the study objective.
Results: Four hundred and four of 451 (90%) CGs responded with a mean age of 68.5 years with 62% females. The results were stratified in 3 groups with regard to disease duration of the PD patient, 0-4, 5-10, and >11 years, respectively. General health condition of the CGs was regarded satisfactory independent of disease duration. Insufficient sleep and disease related stress were considered to be prominent in 36% and 61%, respectively, being significantly more prominent in the group with the longest disease duration. Decreased mood was reported in 31% with no difference between groups. More than 30% of CGs also experienced daily problems with tiredness and sleep disturbance; 27% hypertension; 17% muscle strain, headache and fatigue; and 14% gastro-intestinal problems most items regardless of disease duration. The most troublesome symptoms of the patients to the CGs were reported to be the motor dysfunction (58%). More than half experienced little or no understanding of their situation.
Conclusion: CGs are afflicted with strain and burden in many psychosocial and somatic domains despite satisfactory general wellbeing independent of disease duration. The longer disease duration, and, accordingly CG duration, the more impact on certain domains of CG burden, however, with little understanding of their situation. These findings should be given greater consideration when organizing and planning for PD care in the health care system and the community.