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Clinical Investigations in Critical Care |

Caregiver Strain Associated With Tracheostomy in Chronic Respiratory Failure*

Silvia Rossi Ferrario, PhD; Anna Maria Zotti, PhD; Sergio Zaccaria, MD; Claudio Ferdinando Donner, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From the Psychology Unit (Drs. Rossi Ferrario and Zotti) and the Division of Pulmonary Diseases (Drs. Zaccaria and Donner), “S. Maugeri” Foundation, Rehabilitation Institute of Veruno, Italy.

Correspondence to: Silvia Rossi Ferrario, PhD, Psychology Unit, “S. Maugeri” Foundation, Rehabilitation Institute of Veruno, Via per Revislate 13, 28010 Veruno (Novara), Italy; e-mail: sferrario@fsm.it



Chest. 2001;119(5):1498-1502. doi:10.1378/chest.119.5.1498
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Study objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the psychological and psychosocial impact of tracheostomy on the caregivers of patients who have undergone tracheostomies.

Setting: Rehabilitation facility.

Participants: Sixty-three lay caregivers of inpatients and outpatients with various underlying diseases who have undergone tracheostomies.

Methods: At the beginning of the study, the 63 caregivers completed a previously validated questionnaire designed to assess the problems related to caring for patients with chronic diseases. Approximately 1 year later, 40 of the 63 caregivers completed the same questionnaire a second time. The results were analyzed statistically in order to investigate the caregivers’ perceptions of the factors associated with their own particular situation.

Results: The answers of the 40 subjects who completed the questionnaire twice revealed the existence of perceived strain persisting over time, which was greater in female caregivers and in those caring for patients who had had a tracheostomy for < 14 months. The younger caregivers (age < 59 years) and those caring for patients receiving nocturnal ventilation expressed a continuing need for information about the disease. Finally, the caregivers said that they, as well as their patients led very restricted personal lives.

Conclusions: Tracheostomy causes a substantial amount of caregiver strain, which should be taken into account when deciding on any treatment plan.


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