Learning Objective 1: Describe common physical function and psychological characteristics of family caregivers.
Learning Objective 2: Identify methos to improve physical and psychological functioning in family caregivers.
Methods: FCGs of persons with HF who completed baseline evaluation for an intervention study were included in data analysis. Psychological outcomes included perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale [PSS]) and depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire 9 [PHQ 9]). The Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors [CHAMPS]), peak oxygen consumption (V02) and the six minute walk test [6MWT] were included as physical function outcomes.
Results: Participants (n=90) with a mean age of 55 ± 11.5 who were predominately female (92%), Black (53%), overweight/obese with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 31 ± 7 participated. The mean PSS score of 29 ± 4 (range, 21-38), indicating many FCGs perceived their stress level to be severe. Approximately one-fifth (n=19, 21%) were experiencing depressive symptoms. Considerable variability was present in the physical function measures. CHAMPS mean kilocalories expended per week in moderate levels in physical activity were 1785 ± 648 (range, 0 - 25307). The mean V02 of 30 ± 1 (range, 18-32) was normal for cardiorespiratory fitness in predominately female participants; 6MWT distance was 1239 ± 228 feet (range, 530 – 1890), indicating some participants had substantial physical limitation.
Conclusion: The findings support that FCGs perceive very high levels of stress and experience depressive symptoms that are 2-3 times greater than in the general population, placing them at risk for poor health outcomes. Some FCGs also have considerable physical function impairment that may also contribute to additional health risks. Future interventions should address psychological and physical outcomes to optimize FCG health.