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Self-reported physical and mental health of Australian carers: a cross-sectional study

R. Hussain, S. Wark, G. Dillon, P. Ryan,

Academic Literature

2016

Objective: To report on self-reported physical and mental health of informal carers in rural regions of New South Wales, Australia. Methods: A cross-sectional community-based sample (n=222) of carers completed a questionnaire incorporating self-reported measures of health from validated international instruments including Medical Outcomes Study Scale (SF-36), the Centre for Epidemiology-Depression (CES-D) and Kessler-10 (K-10) Psychological Distress Scales, along with information on participant demographics and other key caregiving characteristics such as health condition of care recipient. Results: Rural carers' self-reported health was poor as evident on the SF-36 Physical and Mental Health component scores as well as each individual domain of the SF-36. Results from the CES-D and K-10 scores indicated very high rates of depressive symptoms and psychological distress. Over 70% of carers within the current study had CES-D scores indicative of depressive symptoms. Scores on the K-10 indicate almost half the carers were experiencing high levels of psychological distress, which is over 4 times the rate reported in the general Australian population. Conclusions and implications: Results from this study were compared to Australian population normative data and were found to be significantly below Australian age-matched population norms for SF-36, CES-D and K-10. These findings illustrate the poor health profile of informal carers relative to the general Australian population, especially in terms of depressive symptoms and psychological distress. This highlights the need for additional support for rural carers in order to ease the accumulated mental and physical health burdens of this group.

Publication information

Journal/Publication : Bmj Open

Domain/s: Community and civic participation

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