The study aimed to determine the caregiver burden and coping strategies in caregivers of familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) patients in relation to illness severity, therapy and health-related quality of life (HRQoL).
The study included 171 paediatric FMF patients and their caregivers (parents). The caregivers were asked to complete a socio-demographic form, the Zarit caregiver burden interview (ZCBI) and the Brief COPE. The patients and their caregivers were asked to complete the KINDer Lebensqualitätsfragebogen questionnaire (self-report and proxy report, respectively) for assessing HRQoL. The patients were categorised according to their disease activity (mild, moderate or severe) and the presence or absence of anti-IL-1 therapy.
The mean ZCBI score of the caregivers was 44.7 ± 13.5. ZCBI and COPE scores did not differ significantly between the caregivers of FMF patients receiving and not receiving anti-IL-1 therapy. However, dysfunctional COPE (p = 0.039) and ZCBI (p = 0.021) scores showed a significant difference between the caregivers in relation to patient’s disease severity. ZCBI scores were positively correlated with dysfunctional coping (p = 0.01). Self-reported HRQoL disease module scores were lower for the patients who received anti-IL-1 therapy than for those did not (p = 0.009). Proxy-reported (p < 0.001) and self-reported (p = 0.043) HRQoL disease module scores were lower for the patients with severe disease activity.
As the caregiver burden increases, parents tend to use a dysfunctional coping strategy. Good control of disease activity with administration of medical therapy can reduce the disease severity, thereby decrease the caregiver burden, and secondly help to reduce the usage of dysfunctional coping in caregivers.