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Psychiatr Prax. 2001 Apr;28(3):105-14.

[Stress of family caregivers of psychiatric patients. Developmental trends, concepts and results of research].

[Article in German]

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie, Universität Leipzig.



A review of the findings in the research literature on the effect of mental illness on other members of the patient's family is provided. This article critically examines the research to date with special reference to the conceptual and operational definitions of burden and methodological issues.


The burdens of caring for a patient at home are considerable throughout different patient groups. Relatives' experience of burden is influenced by their cognitive appraisal of the situation and their psychosocial resources of coping with it. Research findings suggest that information and support provided by clinicians can alleviate caregiver burden, although it has been used too rarely in clinical routine.


Finally, the review identifies advances made in this line of research in recent years and highlights areas that need further attention in future research work. Systematic research of families' responses to and management of mental illness should move beyond the more global concept of family and address the great diversity among families with mentally ill relatives. Furthermore, given the lack of consensus regarding the theoretical conceptualizing of the burden concept a new framework with reference to stressrelated research is suggested.

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