This is an article critique examining the study findings of a research carried out to identify the burden of the caregivers specifically narrowing the study down to the burden of caring for a relative with dementia. This article is authored by five professionals who are highly qualified to carry out a research in this field. One of them (Haritini Tsangari PhD) is an assistant professor of statistics: with the other four being from the medical field this balances the team and makes it capable of handling the statistics logistics of carrying out a research study.
The study used a volunteer sample of 172 caregivers. The study took place in Cyprus between 2004 and 2005. Data collection was done through four methods
- Memory and Behavior problem checklist,
- Centre for epidemiological studies depression scale
- Burden interview
- Ways of coping questionnaires.
The findings showed that a large percentage of the caregivers were burdened and showed depressed. It was found out that the caregiver burden was related to four factors: the patient psychopathology; income: caregiver sex; and level of education. The study also showed that there was no difference in the level of burden for the cases of patients being hosted in the community or institutions (Papastavrou et al., 2007, p.446).
The study explored the burden of dementia within the general stress disorder framework. Caregiver burden is viewed as the reaction severe reaction towards the provision of care which are brought about by increased demand for attention either due to changes in cares requirements or simply due to the intensification of the existing requirements. To alleviate the burden the caregivers have developed strategies to help them meet the demands of taking care of patients. The caregivers who are not able to meet the challenges through adaptation often fall to the care giving burden. The article reviews the dimensions of care giving stress: this is done in four domains. These domains are:
The framework of care
This encompasses the characteristics of the caregivers the type of dyadic relationship and the presence of any social support. Any social support given to the care givers is likely to help them to cope with emotional stresses thus alleviating their burden.
The stressful situation of care giving
The article views this as basic cause of the care giver burden. This may in the form of a problematic behavior exhibited by the patient. This can also be secondary in nature in the form of, for instance, the commitment of the care giver.
There exist other factors which also make a contribution to the burden of a care give: factors such as coping strategies and the care management. These also make a contribution to the burden of a care giver through the perception created of the stress and consequences.
As reviewed above the article has made an attempt to explain the background of the care giving burden. It has shown exclusively how first and most importantly the framework of care does affect the care giver. Equally important is the care giving situation indicated by the patient behavior and the commitment of the care giver. The article next reviews the variables which are associated with the caregiver burden particularly in the case of a dementia patient (Papastavrou et al., 2007, p. 446).
Variables related with the caregiver burden in dementia
These are the individual characteristic of both the patient and the care giver which expose the caregiver to burden. Studies are quoted in this article implicating the role of the patient in care giver burden in a multiple of ways. First implicated is the ability of the patient to adapt to the daily activities. A patient who is able to easily adapt to this situation will lessen the amount of duties for the care giver and make his/her life less burdening (Papastavrou et al., 2007, p. 446).
Another factor reviewed is specific patient characteristics. This may take the form of the patient age, or even the presence of a disease. The article quotes more research showing that physical dependency is also a good contributor towards the care giver burden. For the case of patients suffering from dementia characteristics like, “aggressiveness, wandering and disorientation,” (p. 2) are primary over all the others (Papastavrou et al., 2007, p. 446).
In this section the article has given the variables which trigger the burden on the part of the care giver. The article as laid much weight on the patient as t he cause of this burden. It should be noted that the article fails to mention cultural variables whereby the caregivers are expected to take care of patients no what kind of a situation they might be in. such kind of value though they might be rare tend to favor the patient side at the expense of the care givers. Next the article moves on to examine the impacts of this burden (Papastavrou et al., 2007, p. 446).
Consequences of Burden
Studies implicate family caregivers of patients with dementia with the likelihood of experiencing increased physical and psychological morbidity. When a relative is diagnosed with dementia it becomes quite stressing to the caregivers. The articles symbolizes the sorrow of this burden with that of death. The article uses the term, “disenfranchised grief” (Papastavrou et al., 2007, p. 447). This section brings out the seriousness of the challenges with which care givers views the care giving services. It shows a great challenge which needs to be taken care of. The article next discusses another variable affecting the burden of the caregiver.
Women caregivers have been implicated with vulnerability as compared to their male caregivers counterparts. This article claims that a great portion of caregivers for patients with dementia are women and as such they are more prone to be depressed. The women in addition are said to have lower mastery skills on adapting to the situation. Men are assumed to cope easily with the situation of a caregiver’s situation. The article quotes some other studies claiming that men are likely to receive more informal support than women.
This research used a cross –sectional descriptive study. In this design several methods were used to select and analyse data. The collection of the data took place between 2004 and 2005. The use of many methods in data collection helps to collect reliable information and reduces the biases involved in research.
The study made use 172 patients primary caregiver dyads. The participation was on a voluntary basis with 130 of the participants being drawn from the community residents. The rest were drawn from long term institutions specifically to answer the research question. The inclusion criteria for the caregivers who were included were the frequency with which they got in touch with patients. Other limits were that the caregivers at least must have had an experience of at least one year with the patients. The caregiver had to be free of any mental illness. The patient to the caregiver relationship which existed was mainly that of son, daughter (Papastavrou et al., 2007, p. 448).
The criterion used is sufficient to eliminate any bias from the research. By ensuring that the caregivers who could participate in the research had a more than one year contact with the patient would ensure that the results and opinions gathered would be from real life experience and which do real take place.