Can we identify factors influencing the burden of the family of psychiatric
background Recently, burden on the family of psychiatric patients has gained interest as is revealed in a growing number of studies on this topic. An important part of these studies unveil and identify the variables which influence the burden relatives carry.
aims In this article the results of the studies on the burden of the family of psychiatric patients are mutually compared and discussed.
methods Review of the literature of studies on the burden of the family of psychiatric patients.
results Although many variables, such as the symptoms of the patient, the length of hospitalisation, the duration of the illness, the kind of treatment, the family relationship between the relative and the patient, and the family-interventions (counselling en education) are examined in various studies, only little consensus exists on the effect of these factors on the burden relatives experience.
conclusion To our opinion this lack in consistency is partly due to the variety of definitions and operationalisations of the term 'burden on the family' that are used. Finally an overview of these operationalisations is given.