Psychological status and quality of life among primary caregivers of individuals with mental illness: a hospital based study
BACKGROUND Spouses of people with mental disorder experience various forms of objective and subjective burden. This should negatively affect their quality of life. However, until now no single study has addressed this question. AIMS To investigate the quality of life of spouses of people with schizophrenia, depression or anxiety disorders. METHOD Spouses of patients suffering from schizophrenia (n = 45), depression (n = 49) and anxiety disorders (n = 39) were consecutively recruited from outpatient services in the city of Leipzig. Quality of life was assessed by means of the WHOQOL-BREF, a self-administered questionnaire developed by the World Health Organisation. RESULTS Compared with the general population, the quality of life of the spouses of mentally ill people was lower in the domains 'psychological well-being' and 'social relationships'. There was a significant association between the patient's functional level and the spouse's quality of life. CONCLUSIONS Better treatment, professional support and participation in self-help and advocacy groups may help to improve the quality of life of spouses of mentally ill people.