Caregiver Well-Being, Caregiver Burden, Definitions


Many people eventually become caregivers as a daughter, son, father, mother, friend or partner. In this process, they may face some mental (e.g., depression) and daily physical/social difficulties.

Caregiving Concept

Although  the  term  ―caregiving  is  commonly  used  in  daily  life  and  in  the literature referring to nursing, sociology, and psychology, this term is relatively new; it was first used in 1966. Hermanns and Mastel-Smith conducted a qualitative concept analysis for an understanding of both the concept  and the operational definition of caregiving. They use a hybrid qualitative model consisting of three phases which are theoretical, fieldwork and analytical. According to their definition, caregiving caregiving is related to helping people who cannot help themselves in various ways. Other researchers defined family caregiving as providing personal health care for a family member or a significant other. Also, during the caregiving process, caregivers may face some mental (e.g., depression) and daily physical/social difficulties that affect their both psychological and physical well-being.

Caregiver Psychological Well-being and Depression

Psychological well-being is simply keeping a positive state of mind, because it is related to positive emotions and happiness. In that respect, psychological well- being is related to subjective well-being. Also, it is related to reach one’s full potential, having control over life, establishing positive relationships, and  it is negatively associated with mental health disorders like depression. In the literature concerning the association between depression and caregiver psychological well-being, it was found that one third of caregivers who live with patients reported depressive symptoms, and the severity of symptoms were increasing as the duration of caregiving increases.

Also, according to study conducted with caregivers of cancer patients and patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, depression affects their quality of life and psychological well-being negatively, and it increases their stress level. To conclude, psychological well-being is simply related to positive state of mind, and negatively associated with depression. Also, caregivers experience depressed mood and stress, which in turn, negatively affect their quality of life and psychological well-being. However, well-being is not limited to psychological well-being; it has another dimension called physical well-being.

Caregiver Physical Well-being

Physical well-being is  ―the  lifestyle  behavior  choices  you  make to  ensure health,  and  avoid preventable diseases and conditions. Physical well-being is important in terms of quality of life, and it is related to physical functioning, tiredness, sleep quality, physical conditions and self-care behaviors. In the literature related to caregiving concept, it was found that caregiving affects physical well-being negatively because it is associated with tiredness, less sleep quality, impaired cognitive function and lack of socializing. Also, caregiving process may cause loss of appetite and loss of weight. Thus, physical well-being of caregivers is related to physical factors that affect their quality of life. Impairment in functioning and lack of socializing affect physical well-being, which are also burden for caregivers. Thus,  the next section presents brief literature on caregiver burden.

Concept of Caregiver Burden

Grad and Sainsbury defined caregiver burden as any negative consequence in family. Hoening and Hamilton classified it under two categories which are subjective burden referring to negative feelings like depression, anxiety, and embarrassment; and objective burden referring to events and activities like decreased social activity and economic constraints.

In the literature, the concept of burden and related variables were used both as independent and dependent variables in the caregiver literature. In general, the literature suggested that female caregivers have higher levels of burden compared to male caregivers. Also, it was found that caregiver burden increases as the age of caregiver increases. As it was revealed before in the literature, chronic mental illnesses cause disruption in both emotional and cognitive competencies, alter person’s habit, lead to social and economic losses.

Thus, caregivers of these people report high levels of burden. However, psychological and educational training could decrease the level of caregiver burden . All in all, caregiver burden is divided into two categories which are objective burden and subjective burden, the level of burden changes depends on gender, age, and population, and it can be reduced by psychological and educational training. For a better understanding, in the next section, a short review on some of the theoretical frameworks related to caregiver burden was given.



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