Publication Date

2011-07-27

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2011-07-27

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2011-04-29

First Committee Member

Amy Weisman de Mamani

Second Committee Member

Monica Webb Hooper

Third Committee Member

Guerda Nicolas

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that taking care of a patient with schizophrenia has serious mental health costs to caregivers including high levels of burden and poorer overall mental health. Research also indicates that caregivers from certain ethnic/racial groups may fare better in this process. Specifically, prior research indicates that African American and Hispanic caregivers often exhibit better mental health than their Caucasian counterparts. Using a sample of 176 caregivers of patients with schizophrenia, the present study was specifically aimed at examining whether three variables (caregiver burden, family cohesion and interdependence) may account for part of the formerly observed ethnic/racial differences in psychological outcomes. Study hypotheses pertaining to ethnicity/race and family cohesion were not supported. For the most part, minorities in this study did not demonstrate better mental health outcomes than Caucasians and family cohesion did not predict mental health outcomes. However, in line with study hypotheses, we did find that subjective burden mediated the relationship between objective burden and mental health. In other words, subjective appraisals of caregiving appear to partially underlie the association between concrete costs of caregiving and psychological outcomes in schizophrenia caregivers. Also as expected, we found that interdependence moderated the relationship between objective burden and subjective burden. This finding suggests that helping caregivers to value harmony and connection with others over individual self-interests may reduce the likelihood that objective stressors (which are often inevitable in schizophrenia) will result in subjective distress.

Keywords

Schizophrenia; caregiver burden; family cohesion; interdependence

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