Burden and Psychological Distress among Nigerian Family Caregivers of Schizophrenia Patients: The Role of Positive and Negative Symptoms
Objective: To determine the relationship between symptoms of schizophrenia and caregiver burden/distress among caregivers of people with schizophrenia in southwestern Nigeria. Method: One hundred and one family caregivers of 101 outpatients with schizophrenia were recruited into the study. Caregivers were screened with the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) to measure caregiver burden and the 30 item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30) to measure psychological distress. Patients were interviewed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS) to rate psychopathology. Results: More than half of the caregivers were females (58.4%). About one third of caregivers (33.7%) were experiencing moderate/severe levels of burden even though the mean burden score of 32.6+- 14.1 for the sample was in the mild/moderate range for the ZBI scale. In regression analysis higher caregiver burden scores were associated with negative symptoms of asociality-anhedonia, whereas high GHQ-30 scores were associated with inattention and avolition. High caregiver burden scores were also associated patient's unemployment status and caregiver's low education, while high levels of emotional distress in caregiver was related to female sex of patient and patient's lower level of education. Conclusion: These results underscore the need for continued intervention with family members of schizophrenia patients. Caregivers’ education on negative symptoms of the illness should form part of care plan.