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Burden of care and general health in families of patients with schizophrenia



De-institutionalization of psychiatric patients has led to a greater emphasis on family management in the community, and family members are often overwhelmed by the demands that caring for a patient with schizophrenia involves. Most studies of family burden in schizophrenia have taken place in developed countries. The current study examined family burden and its correlates in a regional area of a medium income country in South America.


Sixty-five relatives of patients with schizophrenia who were attending a public mental health out-patient service in the province of Arica, Chile, were assessed on Spanish versions of the Zarit Caregiver Burden Scale and SF-36 Health Survey (SF-36).


Average levels of burden were very high, particularly for mothers, carers with less education, carers of younger patients and carers of patients with more hospitalisations in the previous 3 years. Kinship and number of recent hospitalisations retained unique predictive variance in a multiple regression. Burden was the strongest predictor of SF-36 subscales, and the prediction from burden remained significant after entry of other potential predictors.


In common with families in developed countries, family members of schizophrenia patients in regional Chile reported high levels of burden and related functional and health impact. The study highlighted the support needs of carers in contexts with high rates of poverty and limited health and community resources.

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This work was supported by Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain, through FI 2002/000179 scholarship to Alejandra Caqueo-Urízar.

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Correspondence to José Gutiérrez-Maldonado PhD.

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Gutiérrez-Maldonado, J., Caqueo-Urízar, A. & Kavanagh, D.J. Burden of care and general health in families of patients with schizophrenia. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 40, 899–904 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-005-0963-5

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Key words

  • family
  • schizophrenia
  • burden
  • general health
  • latin America