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Australian mental health caregiver burden: a smallest space analysis

Objectives: To explore Australian mental health carers' prioritisation of key elements of caregiving and establish the extent to which particular issues contribute to carer burden.; Design: Cross-sectional survey.; Setting: All Australian States and Territories.; Participants: Responses were received from 231 Australian mental health caregivers.; Main Outcome Measures: The Involvement Evaluation Questionnaire was used to assess caregiver burden.; Results: Smallest space analysis identified three distinct regions, which we conceptualise as: 1) promoting the safety and health of mental health consumers; 2) impact of caring on caregivers' personal lives and 3) enabling daily living functional recovery of mental health consumers. The analysis demonstrates that carers are most concerned with enabling daily living functional recovery, for which the mean value was considerably higher than the personal impact and promoting safety and health regions. In terms of the individual questionnaire items, the issues of most importance are assisting with self-care, worrying about consumers' future, finances and general health, encouraging consumer involvement in activities and concerns over the treatment consumers are receiving.; Conclusion: Caregiving often came at significant personal cost. The burden that results from caring for mental health consumers could perhaps be alleviated through the expansion of psychiatric disability services, increasing government financial support and providing tailored psychosocial interventions that meet the needs of families.

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BMJ Publishing Group
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BMJ Open
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