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Keywords:

  • Caregivers;
  • depression;
  • general health;
  • nursing;
  • social support;
  • stress

Aims and objectives.  This study examined the relationships among stressors, social support, depressive symptoms and the general health status of Taiwanese caregivers of individuals with stroke or Alzheimer’s disease.

Background.  Caring for a disabled or cognitively impaired person can be extremely stressful and often has adverse effects on caregivers’ health. While research on caregiving in Taiwan has examined caregivers’ characteristics, caregivers’ need and caregivers’ burden in caring for older people in general, little is known about Taiwanese caregivers of individuals with stroke or Alzheimer’s disease.

Design.  Cross-sectional, descriptive correlation design.

Methods.  Data were obtained from a convenience sample of 103 Taiwanese informal caregivers in the South of Taiwan and analysed using descriptive statistics, Pearson’s correlations, multiple and hierarchical regressions and t-tests.

Results.  Caregivers who had lower household incomes and were taking care of individuals with more behaviour problems had more depressive symptoms. In addition, caregivers who were older and were taking care of individuals with more behaviour problems had worse general health. Caregivers who had more emotional support had less depressive symptoms.

Conclusions.  Caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease had more depressive symptoms and worse general health than caregivers of persons with stroke. Only emotional support moderated the relationship between one of the stressors (household income) and depressive symptoms.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The findings of this study may be helpful for nurses and other health care professionals in designing effective interventions to minimise the negative impacts of stressors on the psychological and general health of caregivers in Taiwan.