The burden of care : a study of perceived stress factors and social capital among volunteer caregivers of people living with HIV/AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal.
Hlengwa, Wellington Mthokozisi
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The burden of caregiving is alarmingly high in South Africa, where one in every three people admitted in hospitals, is HIV positive. A great number of AIDS patients end up being cared for at home by their families, but mostly by volunteer caregivers. The conditions in which caregivers work under, leave much to be desired, hence work related conditions are a probable cause for high stress levels among volunteer caregivers of people living with HIV/AIDS. This study sought to investigate stress factors of volunteer caregivers of people living with HIV/AIDS and the influence of social capital on high stress levels. Within a South African caregiving setting, social capital influence has not been explored. In a culture where silence and stigmatisation of people living with HIV/AIDS and caregivers is high, this study tries to locate participation of close friends and family, local organizations and government in dealing with caregiving work and support. The study was conducted in 13 semi rural communities in Durban KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A survey was used to collect data, and analysis was conducted using quantitative methods. The sample comprised of 127 women from an organization called Community Outreach Centre. The greater (92.2%) of the total sample reported above 50% of stress levels. The findings indicated that caregiving work require urgent support from organizations and government. It was also evident that organizations within communities do not work together nor support each other in dealing with caregiving problems. Contrary to the existing literature, the results also showed that the more social capital elements such as social cohesion and social action at a bridging level increased, the more stressed volunteer caregivers became.