Caring for persons with schizophrenia at home: examining the link between family caregivers' role distress and quality of life

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Abstract

This article re-examines the link between role distress and quality of life of family caregivers of a loved one with schizophrenia by exploring the impact of role overload (defined as spending 7 or more hours daily looking after the care recipient). Role theory and symbolic interactionism provide the conceptual background to this study. The research question is: under what conditions does role distress reduce quality of life? The answer helps us identify circumstances under which caregivers may be able to carry out their stressful caregiving role while minimising a decline in their quality of life. The data are from a purposive sample of 47 family caregivers in Singapore who were interviewed in person using a semi-structured questionnaire. The data analysis includes non-parametric tests, exploratory factor analysis and relative risks estimates. The findings show that the inverse association between role distress and quality of life found in most studies of family caregivers changes when hours of care are taken into consideration. While role distress is found among all family caregivers it only reduces the family caregiver's quality of life in situations of role overload. The implications for the situation of family caregivers are discussed.

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