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Family caregivers play a vital role in care for people with serious illness. Reliable population-level information on family caregiving is scarce. We describe the socio-demographic and family caregiving characteristics and experiences of family caregivers of people with serious illness in the adult population.
We performed a secondary analysis of the cross-sectional population-based 19th Social-Cultural Changes survey. A random sample of 2,581 Dutch-speaking people aged 18–95, living in Flanders or Brussels, were contacted for participation in the survey between March and July 2014 using a stratified two-step sample. Differences between groups are described using Pearson chi-square tests and analysis of variance.
Response rate was 58.7% (1,515/2,581). Over a 12-month period, 7.6% of respondents provided family care for someone with a serious illness (n = 114). They were most often aged 55–74 (36.0%), women (57.9%), worked full-time (42.3%); 31.8% provided at least 10 h of family care each week. Family caregivers of people with serious illness, compared with family caregivers of people with other conditions, provided more medical and nursing care (33.3% vs. 22.5%, p = 0.027), and experienced a higher burden of family caregiving (p = 0.038) but a similarly high meaningfulness of family caregiving.
Significance of results
A considerable part of the adult working population provides family care for someone with serious illness. While family caregiving for someone with serious illness shows similarities with family caregiving for people with other conditions in terms of caregiver characteristics and the impact of caregiving on work-life balance and the meaning derived from it, it is also associated with increased burden.
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