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      Stressors and common mental disorder in informal carers – An analysis of the English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007

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          Abstract

          This study investigates potential explanations of the association between caring and common mental disorder, using the English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007. We examined whether carers are more exposed to other stressors additional to caring – such as domestic violence and debt – and if so whether this explains their elevated rates of mental disorder. We analysed differences between carers and non-carers in common mental disorders (CMD), suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, recent stressors, social support, and social participation. We used multivariate models to investigate whether differences between carers and non-carers in identifiable stressors and supports explained the association between caring and CMD, as measured by the revised Clinical Interview Schedule.

          The prevalence of CMD (OR = 1.64 95% CI 1.37–1.97), suicidal thoughts in the last week (OR = 2.71 95% CI 1.31–5.62) and fatigue (OR = 1.33 95% CI 1.14–1.54) was increased in carers. However, caring remained independently associated with CMD (OR = 1.58 1.30–1.91) after adjustment for other stressors and social support. Thus caring itself is associated with increased risk of CMD that is not explained by other identified social stressors. Carers should be recognized as being at increased risk of CMD independent of the other life stressors they have to deal with. Interventions aimed at a direct reduction of the stressfulness of caring are indicated. However, carers also reported higher rates of debt problems and domestic violence and perceived social support was slightly lower in carers than in non-carers. So carers are also more likely to experience stressors other than caring and it is likely that they will need support not only aimed at their caring role, but also at other aspects of their lives.

          Highlights

          • Caring is associated with an increased risk of depressive and anxiety disorders and suicidal ideation.

          • The increased risk of mental-ill-health in carers is not explained by increased life events and low social support.

          • Carers are exposed to more debt and domestic violence than the general population.

          • Carers should be recognized as being at increased risk of CMD independent of the other life stressors they have to deal with.

          • Interventions aimed at a direct reduction of the stressfulness of caring are indicated.

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          Most cited references 70

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          Caregiving as a risk factor for mortality: the Caregiver Health Effects Study.

          There is strong consensus that caring for an elderly individual with disability is burdensome and stressful to many family members and contributes to psychiatric morbidity. Researchers have also suggested that the combination of loss, prolonged distress, the physical demands of caregiving, and biological vulnerabilities of older caregivers may compromise their physiological functioning and increase their risk for physical health problems, leading to increased mortality. To examine the relationship between caregiving demands among older spousal caregivers and 4-year all-cause mortality, controlling for sociodemographic factors, prevalent clinical disease, and subclinical disease at baseline. Prospective population-based cohort study, from 1993 through 1998 with an average of 4.5 years of follow-up. Four US communities. A total of 392 caregivers and 427 noncaregivers aged 66 to 96 years who were living with their spouses. Four-year mortality, based on level of caregiving: (1) spouse not disabled; (2) spouse disabled and not helping; (3) spouse disabled and helping with no strain reported; or(4) spouse disabled and helping with mental or emotional strain reported. After 4 years of follow-up, 103 participants (12.6%) died. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, prevalent disease, and subclinical cardiovascular disease, participants who were providing care and experiencing caregiver strain had mortality risks that were 63% higher than noncaregiving controls (relative risk [RR], 1.63; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00-2.65). Participants who were providing care but not experiencing strain (RR, 1.08; 95 % CI, 0.61-1.90) and those with a disabled spouse who were not providing care (RR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.73-2.58) did not have elevated adjusted mortality rates relative to the noncaregiving controls. Our study suggests that being a caregiver who is experiencing mental or emotional strain is an independent risk factor for mortality among elderly spousal caregivers. Caregivers who report strain associated with caregiving are more likely to die than noncaregiving controls.
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            A comparison of methods to test mediation and other intervening variable effects.

            A Monte Carlo study compared 14 methods to test the statistical significance of the intervening variable effect. An intervening variable (mediator) transmits the effect of an independent variable to a dependent variable. The commonly used R. M. Baron and D. A. Kenny (1986) approach has low statistical power. Two methods based on the distribution of the product and 2 difference-in-coefficients methods have the most accurate Type I error rates and greatest statistical power except in 1 important case in which Type I error rates are too high. The best balance of Type I error and statistical power across all cases is the test of the joint significance of the two effects comprising the intervening variable effect.
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              Development of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): WHO Collaborative Project on Early Detection of Persons with Harmful Alcohol Consumption--II.

              The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) has been developed from a six-country WHO collaborative project as a screening instrument for hazardous and harmful alcohol consumption. It is a 10-item questionnaire which covers the domains of alcohol consumption, drinking behaviour, and alcohol-related problems. Questions were selected from a 150-item assessment schedule (which was administered to 1888 persons attending representative primary health care facilities) on the basis of their representativeness for these conceptual domains and their perceived usefulness for intervention. Responses to each question are scored from 0 to 4, giving a maximum possible score of 40. Among those diagnosed as having hazardous or harmful alcohol use, 92% had an AUDIT score of 8 or more, and 94% of those with non-hazardous consumption had a score of less than 8. AUDIT provides a simple method of early detection of hazardous and harmful alcohol use in primary health care settings and is the first instrument of its type to be derived on the basis of a cross-national study.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Soc Sci Med
                Soc Sci Med
                Social Science & Medicine (1982)
                Pergamon
                0277-9536
                1873-5347
                1 November 2014
                November 2014
                : 120
                : 190-198
                Affiliations
                [a ]Centre for Psychiatry, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, Old Anatomy Building, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK
                [b ]Department of Psychology, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AZ UK
                [c ]NatCen Social Research, 35 Northampton Square, London EC1V 0AX UK
                [d ]Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, Kings College, London, UK
                [e ]UCL Mental Health Sciences Unit, 2nd Floor, Charles Bell House 67-73, Riding House Street, London W1W 7EJ, UK
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author. s.a.stansfeld@ 123456qmul.ac.uk
                Article
                S0277-9536(14)00592-9
                10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.09.025
                4224501
                25259657
                145ac14e-d7f6-41f0-98d1-d49500e38ff0
                © 2014 The Authors
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