Informal care in Huntington's disease: Assessment of objective-subjective burden and its associated risk and protective factors
Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2022 Dec 2;66(4):101703. doi: 10.1016/j.rehab.2022.101703. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Because of the genetic transmission of Huntington's disease (HD), informal caregivers (ICs, i.e., non-professional caregivers) might experience consecutive and/or concurrent caregiving roles to support several symptomatic relatives with HD over their life. Additionally, some ICs might be HD carriers. However, whether family burden of care is associated with specific factors in HD remains poorly studied.
OBJECTIVE: To provide a quantitative view of the IC burden and identify associated factors.
METHODS: This was a cross-sectional assessment of home-dwelling symptomatic HD individuals (from REGISTRY and Bio-HD studies) and their primary adult ICs, including the HD individual's motor, cognitive, behavioral, functional Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale score; IC objective burden (quantification of IC time in activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living and supervision, using the Resource Utilization in Dementia instrument), IC subjective burden (Zarit Burden Inventory), and ICs' social economic functioning and use of professional home care.
RESULTS: We included 80 ICs (mean [SD] age 57 [12.9] years, 60% women) in charge of 80 individuals with early to advanced stage HD (mean age 56 [12.6] years, 51% men). The mean hours of informal care time was high: 7.3 (7.9) h/day (range 0-24); the mean professional home care was 2.8 (2.8) h/day (range 0.1-12.3). This objective burden increased with higher functional loss of the HD individual and with more severe cognitive-behavioral disorders. The mean subjective burden (35.4 [17.8], range 4-73) showed a high level since the earliest stage of HD; it was associated with HD duration (mean 9.2 [4.7] years) and with aggressive symptoms in individuals (44% of cases). The burden was partially related to the multiplex caregiving status (19%). Protective factors lowering the IC burden included the absence of financial hardship (57%), a strong social network (16%) and keeping active on the job market outside home (46%).
CONCLUSIONS: The objective-subjective burden of ICs related to changing patterns of neuro-psychiatric symptoms and mitigating environmental characteristics around the HD individual-caregiver dyads.