Caregiver burden and distress have been associated with informal caregivers. Research findings on the specific aspects of the caregiving role that influence burden are mixed. Factors such as amount of time per day giving care and specific characteristics about the disease progression have been linked to caregiver burden and distress. Other findings suggest that caregiver burden and distress may be associated with disease characteristics, but caregiver personality traits are the major factor that influences caregiver burden.
The purpose of this study was to use a variety of instruments to assess the relationship between traits that the caregiver comes into the caring situation with (resiliency, social support, spirituality, hope) and caregiver burden, within different caregiving populations. Caregivers giving care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or cancer were the caregiving groups of interest. A convenient sample of 95 informal caregivers completed the battery of instruments through an online survey tool.
Differences between the three caregiving samples were assessed in terms of burden and distress. Hierarchical regression models were created to understand the roles gender, time giving care, activities assisted with, resiliency, social support, spirituality, and hope play in predicting caregiver burden and distress. Psychometric properties were assessed on all six instruments used in this study. Cluster analytic techniques were used to cluster caregivers based on a number of attributes to better understand the caregiving population.
Results from this research indicate that resiliency, social support, spirituality, and hope significantly predict caregiver burden and distress. Amount of time giving care per day, number of months giving care, and activities that the caregiver assists with did not play a significant role in predicting caregiver burden or caregiver distress. The three caregiving groups were unequal in size, but reported similar levels of burden and distress. Two caregiving clusters were created based on this sample. Caregivers who had higher levels of resiliency, social support, spirituality, and hope (cluster one) were significantly less burdened and distressed than caregivers who reported lower levels of resiliency, social support, spirituality, and hope (cluster two).
This research adds to the body of work within caregiver burden and distress. The findings suggest that burden is a factor of different aspects of the caregiver rather than the disease characteristics and progression of the person receiving care.