Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a devastating disease that places a significant burden on patients and their families. However, family caregiving, to the best of our knowledge, has never been described in this population. This study sought to describe depressive symptoms, types of performed care tasks, social support, and the impact of caregiving among family caregivers of patients with PAH.
Methods and results: Data were obtained from 35 dyads of patients with PAH (mean age, 51 years; 63% were female; 54% had World Health Organization functional class III symptoms) and their family caregivers (mean age, 52 years; 60% were female; 68% were spouses). Five caregivers (14%) were identified as manifesting moderate to severe depressive symptoms. The majority of caregivers reported that their daily activities were centered around caregiving responsibilities. More than 85% of caregivers were involved in managing care for the patient, and more than half helped the patient with self-management activities. The level of caregivers' perceived social support was low, especially for emotional and informational support. Lower levels of social support were significantly associated with more severe depressive symptoms in caregivers (r = -.50, P = .002).
Conclusion: Caregivers of patients with PAH play a significant role in patients' medical care and self-management, yet they lack sufficient emotional support or information to meet the demands of caregiving. These findings underscore the importance of supporting family caregivers of patients with PAH.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.