As mental health (MH) care has shifted from institutional settings to the community, families and friends are responsible for providing the majority of the care at home. The substantial literature on the adverse effects experienced by caregivers has focused mainly on psychological morbidity. Less attention has been paid to how caregivers for persons with MH disorders interact with larger social systems and the impacts of factors such as financial strain, lost time from leisure activities, and the availability of health and social services. We conducted a scoping review of MH and other caregiver questionnaires published between 1990 and 2016 to determine whether they addressed four key domains: caregiver work demands, resource needs, resource utilisation and costs. A range of health and social care databases were searched, including MEDLINE and Health and Psychosocial Instruments. After screening for relevance and quality, our search identified 14 instruments addressing elements related to one or more of our domains. Because these instruments covered only a small portion of our domains, we conducted a second targeted search of the general care-giving literature and consulted with experts, identifying an additional 18 instruments. A total of 32 questionnaires were reviewed, 14 specific to care-giving for mental health problems and 18 for other health conditions. Our search identified instruments or items within instruments that assess constructs in each of our domains, but no one instrument covered them completely. Additionally, some constructs were evaluated in detail and others only addressed by single items. While these instruments are helpful for moving measurement beyond the psychological impacts of care-giving, our results serve only as an initial guide. Additional methodological work is needed to more comprehensively measure the impact of care-giving for individuals with MH disorders and to contribute to the development of more meaningful and effective policies and programmes.
Elizabeth Lin PhD, Janet Durbin PhD, Denise Guerriere PhD, Tiziana Volpe PhD, Avra Selick MA, Julia Kennedy M.H.Sc, Wendy J. Ungar MSc, PhD, Donna S. Lero PhD
Health & Social Care in the Community, 1 March 2018