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Predictors of health service use by family caregivers of persons with multimorbidity

Background: Informal caregivers of patients with multiple chronic conditions are socially good, promoting the sustainability of a large part of home care provision. However, this very demanding activity causes health problems that increase their own need for health services. This study analyses the use of health services by informal carers, comparing it with the use made by the general population with similar characteristics. Methodology: Cross-sectional analytical study carried out in the Malaga-Valle Guadalhorce Primary Health Care District (Spain). Healthcare demand and perceived health were measured in the family caregivers, compared to the general population. Strobe Statement for observational studies has been used to strength the report of the results. Results: Final sample consisted of 314 family caregivers together with a subsample of 2.290 non-caregivers taken from data of the National Health Survey. This subsample was paired by gender with our sample. Formal caregivers make fewer annual visits to the health services, with respect to the general population, regardless of the perceived level of health. The difference of the means between those who perceive their health as very poor was 0.11 (95% CI: 0.01 to 0.20) consultations with the family doctor, 0.21 (95% CI: 0.15 to 0.26) consultations with medical specialists and 1.70 (95% CI: 1.52 to 1.87) emergency room attention. Three independent factors were identified that predispose to the increased use of health services: background of greater education achievement (OR 8.13, 95% CI: 1.30 to 50.68), non-cohabitation with the care recipient (OR 3.57, 95% CI: 1.16 to 11.11) and a more positive physical quality of life component (OR 1.06; 95% CI: 1.03 to 1.09). Discussion and Implications: Intrinsic components of the caregiver reveal their independent relationship with the provision of informal care and the use of health services. A broader vision is needed for the factors that influence the health of these caregivers to develop multipurpose interventions and improve the consistency and effectiveness of the health services offered to the caregiver. 

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Journal Of Clinical Nursing
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