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Widening the net: exploring social determinants of burden of informal carers

  • I. Gresswell (a1), L. Lally (a2), D. Adamis (a3) and G. M. McCarthy (a3)

Providing care for a person with dementia or other chronic illness at home often places stress on the primary caregiver. In an Irish population, ~67% of carers reported experiencing extreme physical or mental tiredness. This study aimed to identify factors that influence carer burden and identify the sub-populations of carers who are most susceptible to burden.


Consecutive carers referred to a local carers’ support organisation completed the following measurements: the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, Zarit Burden Interview, Social Network Index, General Health Questionnaire, Short Form Survey, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Brown’s Locus of Control scale and provided demographic data on themselves and their patient.


The sample consisted 53 carers, mean age: 64.5±11.7, of whom 43 (81.1%) were females. A linear regression model found significant independent (p<0.05) factors for carer burden were: increased behavioural problems of the patient, carer characteristics including female gender, younger age, high number of contacts, lower physical functioning and emotional problems, while protective factors were marriage and higher number of embedded networks.


The ability to predict which carers are more susceptible to burden allows service providers to more quickly and accurately identify ‘higher risk’ carers, facilitating routine check-ups by physicians and carer support services.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr L. Lally, Department of Old Age Psychiatry, Liscarney House, Pearse Road, Sligo, Ireland. (Email:
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