Caregiver Research: Psychiatric Disabilities

Predictors of psychological distress in family caregivers of persons with psychiatric disabilities.

Provencher HL, Perreault M, St-Onge M, Rousseau M. Faculty of Nursing, Laval University, Centre de Recherche Universite Laval-Robert Giffard, Quebec, Canada.  J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2003 Oct;10(5):592-607.

The purpose of the study was to determine the relationships of primary and secondary stressors, and informal and formal supports, to psychological distress in 154 family caregivers of persons with psychiatric disabilities. All caregivers were members of self-help groups located in the Province of Quebec in Canada. Psychological distress was significantly lower among older caregivers, those working full time, and those experiencing lower objective and subjective burdens. Contrary to the hypotheses, caregivers who perceived more support from friends and had more contacts with their relatives’ primary mental health providers experienced a higher level of psychological distress.

The role of coping in maintaining the psychological well-being of mothers of adults with intellectual disability and mental illness.

Kim HW, Greenberg JS, Seltzer MM, Krauss MW.  School of Social Work, University of Indiana, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2003 May-Jun;47(Pt 4-5):313-27


BACKGROUND: Mothers who have a child with intellectual disability (ID) or mental illness face a lifetime of caregiving responsibilities and challenges. The present study investigated changes over time in how mothers cope with the challenges of caring for an adult child with disabilities and the effects of changes in coping on maternal well-being.


METHODS: A sample of 246 ageing mothers of adults with ID and 74 mothers of adults with mental illness was drawn from two parallel longitudinal studies of later-life caregiving.


RESULTS: There was considerable variability at the individual level in the degree to which mothers changed over time in their use of problem-focused and emotion-focused coping strategies. For both groups, an increase in their use of emotion-focused coping led to declining levels of well-being. For the parents of adults with ID, an increase in their use of problem-focused coping resulted in a reduction in distress and an improvement in the quality of the relationship with their adult child. For the parents of adults with mental illness, an increase in the use of problem-focused coping had no effect on levels of distress, but led to an improved relationship with their adult child.


CONCLUSIONS: The present study underscores the importance of coping in the lives of older mothers of adults with disabilities.