Aim. This article reports on trends in health outcomes for family caregivers of hip-fractured patients and the effects of social support on these outcomes.
Background. Little is known about the impact of caregiving on the health outcomes of family caregivers of patients with hip fracture.
Method. For this prospective, correlational study, data were collected from 135 family caregivers of hip-fractured elders (2001–2005). Data on health-related quality of life and social support were collected from family caregivers at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after discharge of the older hip-fractured patient.
Findings. During the 12 months after the patients’ discharge, family caregivers’ scores improved significantly in role performance-related scales, including bodily pain, social function, role limitations due to emotional problems and role limitations due to physical problems. However, caregivers’ scores for general health and mental health were significantly lower at 12 months [59·91 (sd = 24·54) and 65·91 (sd = 14·36) respectively] than at 1 month after discharge [64·35 (sd = 23·29) and 67·94 (sd = 18·47) respectively]. The trends for most subscale scores for health-related quality of life were positively related to perceived availability of social support.
Conclusions. Caring for a hip-fractured older family member over a sustained period may enhance family caregivers’ role performance, but have a negative impact on their perceived general health and mental health. These results suggest that home care nurses should develop interventions early after discharge to assess and improve family caregivers’ health perception, mental health and social support.