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Evaluation of chronic stress indicators in geriatric and oncologic caregivers: a cross-sectional study

Caregiving induces chronic stress with physical and psychological impact on informal caregivers health. Therefore, subjective and objective indicators are needed for the early diagnosis of pathologic stress to prevent the risk of developing stress-related diseases in caregivers. Our aim was to assess the self-perceived stress, that is, how and how much the stressor affects the individual, through endocrine, metabolic, and immunologic biomarkers levels in geriatric and oncologic informal caregivers. Informal caregivers and non-caregivers were invited to participate in a cross-sectional study at the Clinic Hospital of Barcelona. Demographic and lifestyle characteristics, self-perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and Stress Visual Analogue Scale), and biomarkers (copeptin, glucose, glycated hemoglobin, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), cholesterol, triglycerides, α-amylase, cortisol, tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), and Interleukins (IL-6 and IL-10)) were evaluated. Descriptive and non-parametric statistical data analysis were performed. Fifty-six subjects (19 non-caregivers, 17 geriatric caregivers, and 20 oncologic caregivers) participated. Median age (IQR) was 57 years (47-66) and 71.46% were women. Self-perceived stress was higher in oncologic caregivers than geriatric caregivers in all psychometric test analyzed (Wilcoxon Rank Sum test, p value < .05). Glucose concentrations and glycated hemoglobin levels differed statistically among groups (Kruskal-Wallis test (K-W tests), p value < .05), even though the median levels were not clinically relevant. Levels of other biomarkers did not differ significantly (K-W tests, p value > .05). These findings suggest that perceived stress is not homogeneous in the caregivers community and thus these two groups could be differentiated. These results provide the baseline information to initiate social actions addressed to each group of caregivers to increase their wellbeing.

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Informa Healthcare
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