Are physicians meeting the needs of family caregivers of the frail elderly?

Can Fam Physician. 1994 Apr:40:679-85.


Objective: To explore expressed needs, both formal and informal, of family caregivers of frail elderly. To evaluate roles of physicians.

Design: Questionnaire survey of members of the Montreal Jewish community providing care for frail elderly family members.

Setting: Jewish community of Montreal.

Participants: Volunteer caregivers who were caring for a family member or friend 60 years or older, who had greatest responsibility for providing physical or emotional support to an elderly person, who saw themselves as caregivers, and who could speak English or French were studied. Of 118 volunteers, 32 were excluded because they withdrew for personal reasons or because they did not meet study criteria.

Main outcome measures: Demographic variables, functional status of the care receiver, use of home care services, and needs assessment to identify additional services.

Results: An average of 75.4% respondents did not use formal support services. Just under half of caregivers were dissatisfied with the attention they received from the health care system, and more than one third expressed feelings of stress, depression, guilt, and isolation.

Conclusions: Hypotheses for this discontent are presented. Physicians may be uninterested in helping caregivers; even if they were receptive to counseling caregivers, they could be poorly remunerated for the types of counseling sessions that are usual for caregivers; and being a professional caregiver to family caregivers is demanding in itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Counseling
  • Family* / psychology
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Services Research
  • Home Care Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Jews
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician's Role*
  • Quebec
  • Surveys and Questionnaires