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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal BMJ Open
Volume (Issue) 7(12)
Page(s) e017369.
Title of proceedings BMJ Open
DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017369

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Objective: To investigate associations of objective caregiver burden, subjective caregiver burden and positive aspects of caregiving with self-reported health indicators in caregiving partners of persons with a severe physical disability (spinal cord injury). Design: Cross-sectional, observational. Setting: Community, Switzerland. Participants: Caregiving partners of persons with spinal cord injury (n=118, response rate 19.7%). Outcome measures: General health, role limitations due to physical health, role limitations due to mental health, pain intensity, mental health and vitality were assessed using items from the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Three items were used to assess the frequency of different types of sleep problems. Results: Subjective caregiver burden was associated to all self-reported health indicators. A high subjective burden was linked to poorer general health (OR 6.5, 95% CI 2.0 to 21.5), more role limitations due to physical health (OR 4.2, 95% CI 1.4 to 12.8), more role limitations due to mental health (OR 3.6, 95 % CI 1.1 to 11.7), higher pain intensity (OR 4.0, 95% CI 1.4 to 11.5), poorer mental health (coefficient −17.9, 95% CI −24.5 to −11.2), lower vitality (coefficient −20.3, 95% CI −28.4 to −12.1), and more frequent sleep problems (OR 5.3, 95% CI 1.6 to 18.4). Partners who indicated positive aspects of caregiving further reported better mental health (coefficient 6.5, 95% CI 0.2 to 12.8). Objective burden was not related to any health indicator. Conclusions: Subjective burden and lack of positive aspects of caregiving were associated with poorer physical and mental health. Caregiver health may be promoted through the strengthening of psychological and psychosocial resources.