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Being a caregiver as a determinant of quality of life and as a contributor to depressive symptoms

Background. Taking care of elderly, ill and disabled people, as well as rearing children alone, involve a number of medical, psychological, economic and social problems. Objectives. The aim of this study was to assess QoL and the severity of depressive symptoms in nonprofessional caregivers compared to non-caregivers. Material and methods. The study involved 460 (100%) participants, including 335 (72.8%) women and 125 (27.2%) men. The individuals were divided into two groups of the same size: a study group of 230 (50%) caregivers and a control group of 230 (50%) non-caregivers. 35.2% (n = 81) of the caregivers were taking care of an adult family member (parent, husband, wife, sister or brother), and 64.8% (n = 149) were mothers rearing children alone, of whom 91 women (19.8% of the whole study sample) were unmarried. The instruments employed in this study were the World Health Organization Quality of Life-Bref (WHOQoL-Bref) questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory and a questionnaire of our own devising. Results. The caregivers (p = 0.001) had lower general QoL. the non-caregivers (control group) scored 4 points more for general QoL, which was associated with a difference in the scores for the WHOQoL-Bref physical health domain. There were statistically significant differences in general QoL (p = 0.031) and in QoL scores in the physical health domain (p = 0.043) between the subgroups of caregivers. Conclusions. Estimating the extent of non-institutional care and concern for the quality of caregivers' lives will improve the physical and mental functioning of both caregivers and those under their care. Regardless of the nature of care, state of health and family relationships, caregivers should receive support from healthcare professionals, the local community, authorities and volunteers.

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Family Medicine and Primary Care Review
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