Family Caregivers’ Monitoring of Medication Usage: A Qualitative Study of Mexican-Origin Families with Serious Mental Illness
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- Marquez, J.A. & Ramírez García, J.I. Cult Med Psychiatry (2011) 35: 63. doi:10.1007/s11013-010-9198-3
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Despite the high level of involvement of many family caregivers of adults with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, little is known about their experiences with and beliefs about monitoring the psychiatric medication usage of their relatives. We used consensual qualitative research methods to analyze narratives on this topic by 12 Mexican-descent caregivers (160 pages of transcripts). The caregivers predominantly represented parent (mother) caregivers with levels of psychological distress and burden that were similar to those of larger samples of Mexican-descent caregivers. They represented equally high and low Expressed Emotion. We found that (a) caregivers’ high knowledge (awareness) of medication usage was either tied to a hands-on monitoring approach or inferred by either the absence or the presence of their relatives’ symptoms, (b) caregivers struggled with reconciling the symptom stabilization benefits of medication with the medications’ side effects and limitations, and (c) most caregivers received little to no assistance from other available family members. Theory development and possible interventions involving family-assisted support of psychiatric medication usage should assess and possibly address caregivers’ struggles with medications’ side effects and low levels of support from available family.