Background: Caregiving in schizophrenia is a demanding and exhausting activity that challenges the physical and emotional resources of family caregivers. In traditional societies such as India, this is further compounded by illiteracy, ignorance and religious and cultural explanations attributed to mental illness. Aims: This study aimed to assess primary caregivers of persons with schizophrenia in terms of their perceived burden, manifestation of psychological distress and quality of life (QOL). Methods: The study used a quantitative cross-sectional design and survey methodology to collect data from caregivers in a hospital setting in Thanjavur, India. Standardized instruments were used to collect data from patients and their caregivers. Results: High perceived burden and lower QOL were seen in the majority of caregivers. They also manifested high levels of anxiety and depression. Patient characteristics such as age, gender, symptoms and duration of illness did not influence the perceived burden of caregivers, while positive and negative symptoms and the duration of illness were correlated with their QOL. Conclusions: Findings indicate the need for intervention for family caregivers to enable them cope more effectively with the demands of caregiving. Psychoeducation and participation in peer support groups are advocated as low resource and effective outcome strategies for caregivers in India.
- quality of life