Self-reported medical morbidity among informal caregivers of chronic illness: the case of cancer
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- Kim, Y., Carver, C.S., Cannady, R.S. et al. Qual Life Res (2013) 22: 1265. doi:10.1007/s11136-012-0255-y
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Informal care provided by family and friends of patients with chronic illness, such as cancer, makes an invaluable contribution to the medical system and to society, yet it also imposes challenges that result in increased morbidity and mortality of the caregivers. Researchers studying this topic confront major difficulties in acquiring information about caregivers’ morbidity from medical records, a procedure that is costly and time consuming.
As an alternative, we developed a brief self-administered measure of morbid conditions for informal caregivers of persons with medical illness. We tested the measure, named the Morbidities Index for Caregivers of Chronic Illnesses (MICCI), using a large cancer caregiver sample (N = 774).
The validity of the MICCI was supported by evidence that self-reports of the majority of morbidities were related to well-known demographic correlates of such morbidities, such as older age and being male, and that overall scores are related to widely used indicators of health status of medical populations as measured by the MOS SF. Caregivers reported an average of 4.5 morbid conditions. A higher number of morbidities were predicted by caregivers’ poorer physical and mental health scores on the MOS.
MICCI has the advantage of providing both an overall index of morbidities and information about specific diagnostic categories that are of potential interest to researchers.