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HOME > Korean J Prev Med > Volume 32(3); 1999 > Article
Original Article A Study on the Family Burden of the Mentally Ill in a Rural Area.
Weon Young Lee, Young Jeon Shin, Jung Hoe Kim, Chung Hyun Nam, Ok Ryun Moon
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 1999;32(3):400-414
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1Department of Preventive Medicine, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Korea.
2Department of Psychiatry, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Korea.
3Department of Psychiatry, School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Korea.

This is a descriptive study which was carried out to identify characteristics of the chronic mentally ill and their families in a rural area and the influencing factors on family burden. METHODS: Data was collected for seven months beginning April 1, 1998 by questionnaire from chronic mentally ill patients and their families in two towns and seven townships of the rural areas of Kyonggi Province. In additional to the mental diagnosis of the mentally ill patients, family burden was measured by interviewing the other family members using the questionnaire developed by Pai & Kapur (1981). Of those interviewed, 103 patients were selected for final analysis. RESULTS: Of 103 mentally ill patients, 36.1% of the subjects were not under treatment. In particular, of 29 patients with schizophrenia, 48.3% of the subjects had stopped taking medication and 6.9% of the subjects had never been treated. According to the results of a specialized examination by a psychologist, 81% of patients were in need of hospitalization. Most primary caregivers were parents. Of the 101 primary caregivers in the study, 39.6% were over 65 years old. In case of death of the primary caregiver, 50.5% of these 101 mentally ill patients would not have anyone to care for them. Of the various kinds of family burden, primary caregivers most often reported psychological stress. Overall, the families of dementia and schizophrenia patients complained of the most family burden. Through univariative analysis, the variables of sex, education and current treatment type of the patients, the relationship with the patient and marital status of the primary caregiver and the number of people living together in the household showed significant correlation with the family burden of schizophrenia patients. Univariative analysis also showed that there were a number of variables which were correlated to the family burden in mentally retarded patients. Concerning the need for mental health services, the most common requests were for entitlement to disability benefits and housing programs. CONCLUSIONS: Community mental health services in rural areas must be developed, planned and executed in consideration of the local situation. In particular, the development of various family support programs is needed in order to mitigate emotional, mental and economic burdens and carry out a positive role to care for and rehabilitate patients.

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