Ellenor Mittendorfer-Rutz, Ph.D., of Karolinska Institutet and colleagues analyzed data derived from Swedish nationwide registers to compare health care resource use, adverse health status, and more of 18,215 parents of patients with schizophrenia, 11,292 parents of patients with multiple sclerosis, 15,516 parents of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 34,715 parents of patients with epilepsy, and 18,408 parents of healthy controls without a chronic illness. (Previous studies show multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and epilepsy place a high burden on caregivers.) The investigators assessed trends for each of the designated outcomes from four years before the child was diagnosed with the chronic illness to seven years after this diagnosis was made.
“Use of specialized health care due to psychiatric or somatic diagnoses showed an increasing trend for all parents throughout the observation period,” Mittendorfer-Rutz and colleagues wrote. Parents of patients with schizophrenia had a higher risk of psychiatric health care use compared with the other parental groups during follow-up, they reported.
The most frequent diagnostic groups of psychiatric diagnoses among the parents were affective and anxiety disorders as well as schizophrenia, they noted. Parents of children with moderately severe schizophrenia had a slightly higher risk of use of psychiatric services compared with parents of children with less severe schizophrenia.
“Different psychosocial interventions aim[ed] at parents of patients with schizophrenia have been reported to be helpful to reduce stress, which may also play a role in stabilizing mental health of such parents,” the researchers wrote. “Unfortunately, no data were available for this study regarding the proportion of parents attending such intervention.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric Services article “Psychological Distress Among Caregivers of Individuals With a Diagnosis of Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder.”