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Depression A Risk For Families If Patient Is In Institution

Disease management program can reduce symptoms

FRIDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Family members and others who care for chronically critically ill (CCI) patients are more likely to suffer adverse psychological and physical effects from caregiving if the patient resides in an institution, according to a report in the December issue of Chest.

Sara L. Douglas, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and colleagues followed 211 caregivers of CCI patients who had received more than three days of mechanical ventilation while in a hospital ICU. Caregiver burden, physical health status and depression were measured at the patients' discharge and again two months later. Of the caregivers, 163 were enrolled in an eight-week disease management program.

The authors found that caregivers of patients living at an institution were more likely to suffer depression, have disrupted schedules, have lower family support and have greater health problems than caregivers of patients residing at home. The disease management program did not have a significant impact on the outcome variables, although after two months, 54% of caregivers showed no signs, or only mild signs, of depression.

"The early identification and referral of those exhibiting symptoms of depression, as well as the development and testing of specific interventions, must occur if we are to meet the mental health needs of this vulnerable population of caregivers," the authors conclude.

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