Objective To investigate associations of objective caregiver burden, subjective caregiver burden and positive aspects of caregiving with self-reported health indicators in caregiving partners of persons with a severe physical disability (spinal cord injury).
Design Cross-sectional, observational.
Setting Community, Switzerland.
Participants Caregiving partners of persons with spinal cord injury (n=118, response rate 19.7%).
Outcome measures General health, role limitations due to physical health, role limitations due to mental health, pain intensity, mental health and vitality were assessed using items from the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Three items were used to assess the frequency of different types of sleep problems.
Results Subjective caregiver burden was associated to all self-reported health indicators. A high subjective burden was linked to poorer general health (OR 6.5, 95% CI 2.0 to 21.5), more role limitations due to physical health (OR 4.2, 95% CI 1.4 to 12.8), more role limitations due to mental health (OR 3.6, 95 % CI 1.1 to 11.7), higher pain intensity (OR 4.0, 95% CI 1.4 to 11.5), poorer mental health (coefficient −17.9, 95% CI −24.5 to −11.2), lower vitality (coefficient −20.3, 95% CI −28.4 to −12.1), and more frequent sleep problems (OR 5.3, 95% CI 1.6 to 18.4). Partners who indicated positive aspects of caregiving further reported better mental health (coefficient 6.5, 95% CI 0.2 to 12.8). Objective burden was not related to any health indicator.
Conclusions Subjective burden and lack of positive aspects of caregiving were associated with poorer physical and mental health. Caregiver health may be promoted through the strengthening of psychological and psychosocial resources.