Quality of life and factors predictive of burden among primary caregivers of chronic liver disease patients

Authors Douglas L. Nguyen, Daniel Chao, Grace Ma, Timothy Morgan.


Background Chronic liver disease increases the socioeconomic and emotional burden on the patient's caregiver. This is important because a patient's adherence to therapy and transplant eligibility is dependent on the caregiver's ability to handle these challenges.

Methods This was a prospective, cross-sectional study of 50 primary caregivers of patients with advanced liver disease. Caregivers completed the RAND 36-item (Short Form [SF-36]) Health Survey and the Zarit Burden Scale survey. Caregiver quality of life, based on the SF-36, was compared using t-tests with the scores of the National reference population as controls.

Results In our cohort, the mean age of caregivers was 56.9±11.4 years, 40 (83.3%) were female, and 34 (70.8%) were spouses/significant others of the patient. Compared with the adjusted National norm data, caregivers scored substantially lower in categories of role limitations due to emotional problems (P<0.001), vitality (P=0.025), mental health (P=0.005), and social functioning (P=0.002). While the adjusted physical component score of the caregivers was comparable to the National mean, the mental component score (MCS) was lower than the National average (42.4±13.3 vs. 50.0±10, P<0.001). Though only 8 of 50 (16.0%) subjects reported a formal diagnosis of depression or anxiety, 23 (46.0%) had MCS <42, a strong predictor of clinical depression, based on previous studies.

Conclusions Primary caregivers of patients with advanced liver disease have significantly lower SF-36 mental health scores compared with the general population. Comparison of SF-36 scores to caregiver history suggests under recognition of mental health problems in this population.

Keywords Chronic liver disease, caregiver burden, depression

Ann Gastroenterol 2015; 28 (1): 124-129

Original Articles