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L. E. Dreer, J. Bambara, C. Owsley, M. Snow; What About the Family?: An Examination of Family Caregiver Emotional Functioning on the Adjustment of Persons Presenting for Low Vision Rehabilitation Services. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):3160.
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To examine the relationships between depression, vision severity, onset of eye disease, and demographic variables of patients entering low vision rehabilitation, along with the emotional functioning of their informal family member caregivers.
The study was conducted in an outpatient low-vision rehabilitation clinic. Family members identified themselves as informal caregivers if they provided some form of assistance in daily living to the patient due to the patient’s eye condition and were also not receiving payment for their services. The main outcome measure for the study was the patients’ Center for Epidemiological Studies in Depression (CES-D) scale score. The CES-D was administered separately to both the patient and their family caregiver following the patient's initial low vision rehabilitation examination. We conducted correlational and hierarchical multiple regression analyses of the data.
The sample consisted of 101 patient-caregiver dyads. Of individuals entering the low-vision rehabilitation program, 37 were male and 64 were male (M age = 74, SD = 13.62). Of the informal family caregivers, 30 were male and 70 were female (M age = 59, SD = 13.63). Approximately 25% (N = 25) of the low vision rehabilitation patients were at or above the recommended cut-off scores for probable depression. Interestingly, this rate was much higher for their family member caregivers, 34% (N = 34).Patient depression was associated with patient demographic variables such as age (r = -.25) and onset of eye disease (r = -.22), with younger patients and those experiencing a more sudden onset reporting greater depressive symptoms; vision severity was unrelated to patient depression. Additionally, family caregiver depression was also significantly related to patient depression (r = .30).Patient demographic variables and onset of eye disease significantly predicted 10% of the variance in patient depression. After controlling for these variables, caregiver depression significantly predicted an additional and unique 6% of the variance over and above patient variables.
Overall, the findings, indicate that a subset of low vision rehabilitation patients, along with their family caregivers are at-risk for depression. Longitudinal studies are needed to test whether there is a causal relationship. This study warrants greater attention to family member emotional functioning in low vision rehabilitation services and research.
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