Childhood nephrotic syndrome (NS) follows a chronic course in most children. However, little is known about the psychosocial burden of NS on the caregivers despite evidence that caregiver burden or impairment in their well-being may alter the outcome of chronic childhood illnesses.
To determine the frequency and predictors of significant caregiver burden and psychological distress among caregivers of children with NS.
A cross-sectional study.
Two pediatric nephrology clinics in Lagos, Nigeria.
We included primary caregivers of children with idiopathic NS for at least 6 months.
The primary outcomes were psychological distress and significant caregiver burden among caregivers.
We interviewed caregivers using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the 6-item Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI-6). The GHQ-12 scores ≥ 3 and ZBI-6 scores ≥ 6 indicated psychological distress and significant caregiver burden, respectively.
The caregivers were mostly mothers (77.9%) and married (92.4%), whereas the children (n = 172) were mainly male (65.1%). Most of the children (n = 152; 88.4%) had steroid-sensitive NS including 24 (14%) children with frequent relapses or steroid dependence and 20 (11.6%) with steroid-resistant NS. Of the 172 caregivers, 53 (30.8%) and 30 (17.4%) reported psychological distress and significant burden, respectively. Caregivers of children in relapse had adjusted an odds ratio (aOR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) of 2.45 (1.05-5.67) and 3.30 (1.22-8.92) of psychological distress and significant caregiver burden, respectively. Furthermore, caregivers of male children and those who needed help paying for health care had an aOR of 4.61 (1.34-15.68) and 3.06 (1.06-8.87) of significant caregiver burden, respectively.
The study was limited by its cross-sectional design and the use of generic rather than disease-specific instruments.
One in every 6 caregivers of children with idiopathic NS reported significant caregiver burden, and it was associated with psychological distress. Our findings underscore the need for psychosocial support for caregivers of children with NS, especially those with identifiable vulnerability.