Can burdened caregivers be effective facilitators of elder care-recipient health care?


  • Haya Greenberger PhD,

    1. Director, Department of Testing, Israel Ministry of Health, Nursing Division; Director, School of Nursing, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Howard Litwin DSW

    1. Dean, Paul Baerwald School of Social Work, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel
    Search for more papers by this author

Howard Litwin,
Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
Mount Scopus,
Jerusalem IL-91905,


Background. Caregiving by informal family caregivers of dependent older people in the community may be affected by burden and by the personal and social resources available to the caregiver. Given the increase in the dependent older population, study of factors affecting informal caregiving is necessary.

Aim. To examine caregiver resources, burden and competence as predictors of health-care facilitation on behalf of older patients.

Design. Cross-sectional data were collected by an interview schedule from 240 randomly sampled spousal and filial caregivers in Jerusalem. Study variables included caregiver background variables, general self-concept and feelings of caregiver competence, informal and formal social support, burden and levels of health-care facilitation. Path analysis was performed to clarify the direct and indirect predictors of health-care facilitation.

Results. Caregiver facilitation of health-care was positively related both to the presence of personal and social resources and to burden levels. The results suggest that quality caregiving can coexist with burden, provided that ample caregiver resources are present. The most important resources were caregiver sense of competence and support from the professional health-care provider.

Discussion. Caregiving burden is not readily reducible, given the chronic nature of older people's health problems. However, caregiver resources can be bolstered, particularly by health professionals. Nurses, who are orientated to holistic family centred care, are especially well-suited for this important intervention.