Caregiving for cancer and HIV/AIDS patients is complex, and the burden may vary with the type of disease, stages of the illness, and the type of palliative care intervention. Cancer and HIV/AIDS diagnosis and treatment adversely affect not only the patients but also their families and caregivers. They are vulnerable to stress, distress, and depression. Studies in developed countries have shown high prevalence of depression among family caregivers, but the scale of the problem among family caregivers in Uganda is not known.
This study aimed to establish the prevalence and factors associated with depressive symptoms among family caregivers of palliative care patients at Hospice Africa Uganda.
We used a mixed method study to determine the prevalence and factors associated with depressive symptoms among family caregivers of palliative care patients at Hospice Africa Uganda. We assessed depressive symptoms using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and collected socio-demographic data using a tailored questionnaire. We used binary logistic regression to assess for the association between depressive symptomatology and caregiver socio-demographic and clinical characteristics.
We recruited 161 family caregivers, 64% of whom were female. The study revealed a high prevalence of depressive symptoms (46%) (n = 74) among the family caregivers. Education status and religious affiliation were significantly associated with depressive symptomatology.
Significance of results
Family caregivers of palliative care patients face a high burden of depressive symptoms. Efforts to care for family caregivers within palliative care should include assessment and management of depressive symptoms in this population.