2016 Volume 26 Issue 12 Pages 622-628
Background: We examined the associations of informal (eg, family members and friends) and formal (eg, physician and visiting nurses) social support with caregiver’s burden in long-term care and the relationship between the number of available sources of social support and caregiver burden.
Methods: We conducted a mail-in survey in 2003 and used data of 2998 main caregivers of frail older adults in Aichi, Japan. We used a validated scale to assess caregiver burden.
Results: Multiple linear regression demonstrated that, after controlling for caregivers’ sociodemographic and other characteristics, informal social support was significantly associated with lower caregiver burden (β = −1.59, P < 0.0001), while formal support was not (β = −0.30, P = 0.39). Evaluating the associations by specific sources of social support, informal social supports from the caregiver’s family living together (β = −0.71, P < 0.0001) and from relatives (β = −0.61, P = 0.001) were associated with lower caregiver burden, whereas formal social support was associated with lower caregiver burden only if it was from family physicians (β = −0.56, P = 0.001). Compared to caregivers without informal support, those who had one support (β = −1.62, P < 0.0001) and two or more supports (β = −1.55, P < 0.0001) had significantly lower burden. This association was not observed for formal support.
Conclusions: Social support from intimate social relationships may positively affect caregivers’ psychological wellbeing independent of the receipt of formal social support, resulting in less burden.