To evaluate if physical functioning is different in female caregivers of children with physical disabilities compared with female caregivers of children with nondisabling medical illnesses, and to investigate the factors associated with functioning level.
Ninety consecutive female caregivers of children presenting to a pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) clinic, and 23 presenting to a pediatric endocrine clinic.
Fifteen-minute self-administered survey.
Main Outcome Measures
The dependent variable measured was physical functioning (physical functioning subscale of the Short Form-36). Independent variables measured were the average back pain severity over the last week (100-mm visual analog scale), mood (using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression Scale), work status, amount of lifting at work, caregiver demographics, child demographics, and the physical functioning ability of the child (measured using the WeeFIM scale).
The mean (SD) physical functioning score of caregivers of children in the pediatric PM&R clinic was 80.6 (21.9), which was less than the score of 90.2 (17.6) for caregivers in the pediatric endocrine clinic (mean difference, 9.6; 95% confidence interval, −0.9 to −18.4). The physical functioning score of 77.7 (22.9) in caregivers of PM&R clinic children with a WeeFIM scale score of 1 to 4 was significantly worse than the 90.5 (14.8) in female caregivers of children with a WeeFIM score of 5 to 7 (mean difference, 12.8; 95% confidence interval, −2.0 to −23.6). This decrease is associated with the average pain severity, mood, and total length of time of back pain in the previous 12 months. Regression analysis shows that pain severity and caregiver mood are significantly related to the physical functioning status of the caregiver.
Physical functioning is decreased in female caregivers of children with a physical disability. This decrease is associated with caregiver pain severity and mood.