Programme no. 134-OP
Public Health
Depression in caregivers of terminally ill patients.
Mette Kjaergaard Nielsen*1, Mette Asbjoern Neergaard2, Anders Bonde Jensen3, Flemming Bro4, Mai-Britt Guldin5
1Research Unit for General Practice,Aarhus,Denmark, 2The Palliative Team,Department of Oncology,Aarhus,Denmark, 3Department of Oncology,Aarhus,Denmark, 4Research Unit for General Practice,Aarhus,Denmark, 5The Palliative Team,Department of Oncology,Aarhus,Denmark;Research Unit for General Practice,Aarhus,Denmark
* = Presenting author
Objectives: The aim was to describe the extent of depressive symptoms in a sample of caregivers of terminally ill patients and to investigate the association between depression and specific socio-economic variables.
Background: Family caregivers of terminally ill patients are in a vulnerable position. Former studies show, that they have an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms during the patient’s illness trajectory, but little is known about the association between depression in caregivers and their socio-economic status.
Results: In total, 17.1% of the caregivers had moderate-severe depressive symptoms; the prevalence of depression in the Danish general population is around 4%. Unadjusted analysis showed that the caregivers in the “depressed” group were significantly more likely to be females than males (OR=1.64 (95%CI; 1.32-2.03)), below than above the age of 60 years (OR=1.74 (95%CI; 1.33-2.28), being single than married (OR =1.47 (95% CI; 1.14-1.88)), immigrants than Danes (OR=1.88 (95%CI; 1.15-3.10)), living in a rented house than in an owned house (OR=1.44 (95% CI; 1.19-1.76)). No statistical significance was found regarding the family caregivers’ relation to the patient, educational status, gross income and community size.
Material/Methods: Family caregivers were invited to participate, through letters to eligible patients, who had been granted drug reimbursement for terminal illness in 2012 (n=9,512). In total, 3,637 family caregivers filled in a questionnaire (response rate: 38%). Depressive symptoms were measured on Beck’s Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) with a sum score based on the 21 items of the scale. The caregivers were divided into two groups: “None-mild depressive symptoms” (BDI-II sum score < 20) and “moderate-severe depressive symptoms” (BDI-II sum score > 20). Associations between depressive symptoms (BDI-II > 20) and socio-economic variables were calculated using logistic regression and were presented as odds ratios.
Conclusion: Health professionals should be aware of an increased risk of depression among caregivers of terminally ill patients. Depressive symptoms seem to be more frequent in caregivers who are female, young, single, immigrants or living in a rented house. Additional studies are needed to identify other possible predictors of depression in caregivers during a patient’s illness trajectory and to detect caregivers at specifically high risk of developing depressive symptoms.
Points for discussion: What is the significance of the results?

What can we do in general practice to support caregivers of terminally ill patients?

How do we identify caregivers at risk of developing a depression?