To investigate strain and mental health among family caregivers of oesophageal cancer patients and possible factors associated with caregiver mental health and strain.Methods:
Patients with oesophageal adenocarcinoma in Ireland were recruited into the FINBAR study (the main aim of which was to investigate factors influencing the Barrett's adenocarcinoma relationship). Carers completed the 13-itemCaregiver Strain Indexand theGeneral Health Questionnaire-30(GHQ) in the context of a brief interview with trained research staff that was undertaken separately from the interview with each cancer patient.Results:
Two hundred and twenty-seven patients participated in the FINBAR study. A total of 39 patients did not have a family carer or the carer could not be identified. Fifty percent (94/188) of carers completed the questionnaires. Mean (SD) scores for strain (6.65, SD = 3.63) and mental health status (10.21, SD = 7.30) were high and 71% of carers scored >5 on the GHQ indicating psychological distress. There was a statistically significant positive relationship between level of strain experienced by caregivers and the severity of their mental health status and whether or not carers scored >5 on the GHQ. Relatives were 1.70 (95% CI 1.34-2.15) times more likely to be defined as high scorers with each unit increase in the CSI score.Conclusions:
A significant proportion of caregivers experienced high levels of strain and psychological distress. There is a need to provide appropriate support and services targeted specifically at reducing the considerable strain of caring for patients with oesophageal cancer, particularly for carers of patients from lower socioeconomic groups.