Family caregiving during 1-year follow-up in individuals with advanced chronic organ failure

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Abstract

Background:

Family caregivers already have a paramount role in daily care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic heart failure (CHF), or chronic renal failure (CRF). To date, it remains unknown whether and to what extent the experience of caregiving changes over time.

Objectives:

To examine changes in caregiver burden and positive aspects of caregiving during 1-year follow-up in patients with advanced COPD, CHF or CRF and to study determinants of changes in caregiver burden and positive aspects of caregiving.

Methods:

In this longitudinal observational study, patients and their family caregivers who had complete data at baseline and 12 months (n = 104) and family caregivers of patients who died during 1-year follow-up (n = 15) were included. Caregiver burden and positive aspects of caregiving were assessed using the Family Appraisal of Caregiving Questionnaire for Palliative Care (FACQ-PC). Domain scores were classified into three categories, and baseline characteristics were compared between these categories.

Results:

A majority of the individuals showed 1-year changes in FACQ-PC domain scores. These individual changes were not explained by demographic or clinical patient characteristics at baseline or changes in patient characteristics during 1-year follow-up. Furthermore, caregiver burden was higher for caregivers of patients who died during 1-year follow-up compared to caregivers whose relative completed 1-year follow-up.

Conclusion:

This study showed that caregiver burden and positive aspects of caregiving can change over time, and these changes are highly individual. Therefore, healthcare providers should regularly pay attention to family caregivers, regardless the patients' characteristics.

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