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Burdening caregivers of patients with schizophrenia at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, The Gambia.

PURPOSE: Deinstitutionalization of persons living with mental illness has led to many patients residing in communities with family members and shifting the burden of care and caregiving from hospitals to homes. The aim of the study was to determine the burden on caregivers of patients with schizophrenia at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH).

METHODS: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study design with a sample consisting of 161 randomly selected caregivers of patients with schizophrenia. The GHQ-12 questionnaire was used to determine the general health status of the caregivers. The caregivers' burden was assessed using the Zarit Burden Scale. The data were collected using the researcher-administered method. The collected data were analyzed with IBM SPSS Version 20 using descriptive statistics, mean differences, and the general linear model (GLM).

RESULTS: The main findings of this study were that caregivers experienced a significantly high level of burden. Most of them experienced high levels of physical (70%), psychological (93.2%), social (78.3%) and financial (55.3%) burdens. Employment status, specifically unemployment status and belonging to the Wolof ethnic group, was a significant predictor of the level of financial burden on the caregivers. Similarly, the total score for social burden was also significantly greater among unemployed caregivers. Educational level was a significant predictor of the total score on the psychological and physical burden scale.

CONCLUSION: The caregivers of patients with schizophrenia at EFSTH are experiencing a high level of burden as a result of their caregiving role, which affects their health, and this calls for urgent intervention.

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