Parkinson's disease: An investigation of relevant marital and family factors
The purpose of this study was to (a) examine the degree of caregiver burden experienced by spousal caregivers of persons suffering from idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) ; (b) explore factors believed to be associated with caregiver burden; and (c) investigate factors believed to be correlated with the amount of assistance in activities of daily living required by the patient. These factors included marital satisfaction, marital cohesion, marital adaptability, severity of illness, quality and quantity of family contact, and demographic data. Forty-three spousal caregivers and 42 PD patients recruited from the Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society (DAPS) participated in this investigation. Caregiver burden was evaluated by Zarit's Burden Interview; the amount of assistance required in daily living activities was measured by The Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Measures were taken on levels of marital satisfaction, marital cohesion, and marital adaptability by the use of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) and the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Scales III (FACES III), respectively. Severity of illness was determined by the patient's physician. The data were analyzed through the use of a chi-square goodness of fit test, a series of multiple regression analyses, a two-group discriminant function analysis, and a multiple discriminant function analysis. A series of independent t-tests were also conducted to ascertain whether or not the average burden score generated from this sample differed from mean burden scores of dementia caregivers taken from the research literature. Results revealed a significantly higher frequency of mild to severe cases of burden than cases of little or no burden; however, the average burden score of this sample was significantly lower than reported burden levels of caregivers of dementia patients. While only severity of illness was found to be significantly related to ADL, several variables were significantly associated with caregiver burden. In particular, higher amounts of assistance in ADL and lower levels of caregiver cohesion were correlated with higher caregiver burden. A discriminant function analysis successfully discriminated a group of caregivers who reported lower burden despite caring for a severely impaired spouse from a group of caregivers who reported higher burden in caring for a severely impaired spouse. Implications of these findings were discussed along with suggestions for future research.