, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 133-138

Quality of life and burden in parents of outpatients with schizophrenia

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Abstract

Background

Since the late 1950s, several studies have reported the burden faced by families living with a mentally ill relative. These studies have pointed out the importance of a progressive mental health service, focusing not only on the treatment of the patients, but also on the needs of the relatives. The aims of the present study were to compare the quality of life of parents of outpatients with schizophrenia with a randomly selected reference group and the relation between quality of life and burden on the parents.

Subjects

The sample comprised all parents (n=38) of outpatients with schizophrenia at an outpatient clinic in 2001, where the patients had contact at least once a week with both parents and staff. The parents were compared with a reference group (n=698).

Methods

The self-rating scale Quality of Life Index (QLI) was used to assess quality of life in both groups. In the case of the parents, semistructured interviews were supplemented by the data collection to assess the degree of burden with the Burden Assessment Scale (BAS). The outpatients were also interviewed to assess their global function with the Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF) and the Clinical Global Impression scale (CGI).

Results

The parents were significantly less satisfied with their overall quality of life (p<0.05). There was a correlation between lower overall quality of life and higher perceived burden r=0.58 (p<0.01). There was also a correlation between lower values on the family subscale and social subscale within the QLI and higher subjective burden r=0.54 (p<0.01) and r=0.52 (p<0.01), respectively.

Conclusion

These results indicate that caregiving has an influence on the family situation and on the quality of life of parents. These findings suggest that the professions working with the parents must have an approach focusing not only on the care given to the ill daughter or son, but also on the parents’ situation.