n African Journal of Disability - Perceived burden of care and reported coping strategies and needs for family caregivers of people with mental disorders in Zimbabwe : original research

Volume 5 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2223-9170
  • E-ISSN: 2226-7220



Mental health service resources are inadequate in low-income countries, and families are frequently expected to provide care for their relative with a mental disorder. However, research on the consequences of care-giving has been limited in low-income countries, including Zimbabwe.

The study explored the perceived impact of mental illness, reported coping strategies and reported needs of the family members of persons diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder or schizophrenia attending a psychiatric hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe.
A purposive sample of 31 family members participated in in-depth interviews and focus group discussions using standardised study guides. Participants were also screened for common mental disorders (CMDs) using the 14-item Shona Symptom Questionnaire.Qualitative data were analysed thematically using NVivo 8 qualitative data analysis software. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 16) was used for descriptive quantitative data analysis.
Caregivers experienced physical, psychological, emotional, social and financial burdens associated with care-giving. They used both emotion-focused and problem-focused coping strategies, depending on the ill family members' behaviours. Seeking spiritual assistance emerged as their most common way of coping. Twenty-one (68%) of the caregivers were at risk of CMDs (including three participants who were suicidal) and were referred to a psychiatrist for further management. Caregivers required support from healthcare professionals to help them cope better.
Caregivers of patients attending psychiatry hospitals in Zimbabwe carry a substantial and frequently unrecognised burden of caring for a family member with a mental disorder. Better support is needed from health professionals and social services to help them cope better. Further research is required to quantitatively measure caregiver burden and evaluate potential interventions in Zimbabwe.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error