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The multidimensional burden of informal caregivers in primary malignant brain tumor

Purpose: Informal caregivers (ICs) provide care and improve the quality of life of patients with malignant brain tumor. We analyze the impact of their involvement on themselves from a triple perspective.

Methods: Home-dwelling patients with primary malignant brain tumor underwent a medical examination. ICs burden was evaluated by a self-administered postal questionnaire. Objective burden (Informal Care Time, ICT), subjective burden (Zarit Burden Inventory, ZBI), and financial burden (valuation of lost earnings using the Replacement and Opportunity Cost Methods, RCM, OCM) were evaluated.

Results: ICs (N = 84) were principally women (87 %) and spouses (64 %), of mean age 55 years, who assisted patients of mean age 53 years and with a mean KPS score of 61 (range = 30–90, med = 60). Subjective burden was moderate (mean ZBI = 30). Objective burden was high (mean ICT = 11.7 h/day), mostly consisting of supervision time. Higher subjective and objective burden were associated with poorer functional status (KPS) but not with a higher level of cognitive disorders in multivariate analyses. Other independent associated factors were bladder dysfunction and co-residency for objective burden and working and a poor social network for subjective burden. The 56 working ICs made work arrangements (75 %) that impacted their wages (36 %) and careers (30 %). Financial burden due to uncompensated caregiving hours for Activities of Daily Living had a mean monetary value from Є677(RCM) to Є1683(OCM) per month (i.e., ranging from Є8124 to Є20196 per year).

Conclusions: IC burden is multidimensional. Greater provision of formal care, more IC support programs, and economic interventions targeting IC employment and finances are needed.

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Supportive Care In Cancer
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