The health of informal carers

Johnson, Eileen Mary (2002) The health of informal carers. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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In order to advance our understanding of informal carer health, this mixed-method research was conducted amongst a large, general population of informal carers. Initially, a postal survey was carried out using the UK version of the Short-Form 36 (SF-36) health status questionnaire. The study population, which was composed of 578 participants, was drawn from the carer mailing lists of voluntary sector organisations in four geographically distinct areas in the North West of England. The participants' scores for SF-36 were compared with those of a small group of non-carets and UK normative data for this measure.
These evaluations revealed that the participants' health was dramatically inferior to that of a normative population across all eight health dimensions addressed by the SF-36.
Moreover, following the performance of a further evaluation, the health of the participants was shown to be comparable to or worse than that of patients with a variety of medically diagnosed conditions.
A subsequent series of in-depth interviews with 28 of these participants validated and expanded upon the findings of the quantitative survey. Furthermore, data from these interviews demonstrated clear associations between the participants' health status and their social and political milieu. A coherent theory, which contributes to our current knowledge of caret health, was developed from these research findings.

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