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  2. Reciprocal burden: Adults with drug-resistant epilepsy reflect upon informal caregiver support (vol 89, pg 85, 2021)

Reciprocal burden: Adults with drug-resistant epilepsy reflect upon informal caregiver support (vol 89, pg 85, 2021)

Objectives: To explore how a sample of people with uncontrolled seizures describe their experiences of receiving informal supportive care. Methods: Using constructivist grounded theory, in-person, semi-structured interviews were conducted in 35 adults with drug-resistant epilepsy. These 20 (57%) women and 15 (43%) men were aged 18–68 years (mean= 35.6 years), with a range of verbal comprehension scores. The majority, 28 (80%) lived in nuclear family settings. Results: Unpredictable seizures disrupted personal autonomy and generated unique challenges for everyday life. While supportive care was deemed necessary to survival, subjective reflections around the implications of care-receiving and caregiving, were ultimately experienced as mutually burdensome. Four dynamic and interactive dimensions revealed a mirrored, interactive perspective of what it meant to be a care-recipient: assuming responsibility; protecting and supervising; acknowledging reliance and setting boundaries. Care-recipience was not one-sided, but included actively hiding personal struggles as a way to shield the caregiver from the emotional and physical demands of caregiving. Relationship dynamics between caregivers and care-recipients played a major role in treatment decision-making. A clinically useful Theory of Reciprocal Burden resulted from our study. Conclusions: This study adds an explanatory dimension to the concept of illness burden from the perspective of care-recipients. Relationship dynamics play a key role in patient-centered epilepsy care, with clinical implications for guiding supportive caregiving, fostering independence and promoting self-management strategies.


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Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
Publication Year
Journal Titles
Seizure-European Journal of Epilepsy
Volume Number
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End Page