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Social support, satisfaction with life and general well being of caregivers of people with schizophrenia.

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Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects a person's ability to think and function well. Perceptions, feelings, and behaviour become impaired, making it difficult for the person to manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to other people (Dyck, Short & Vitaliano, 1999). According to Brady and McCain (2005) schizophrenia does not only affect individuals, but the entire family. Very often a family member becomes the primary caregiver to a loved one with schizophrenia. Brady and McCain (2005) point out that the lifetime emotional, social, and financial consequences experienced by individuals with schizophrenia have significant effects on their families. Family responses to having a family member with schizophrenia include: care burden, fear and embarrassment about the illness signs and symptoms, uncertainty about the course of the illness, lack of social support and stigma. This study investigated the nature of the relationship between indicators of psychological well- being (satisfaction with life and general well- being) and social support as a stress buffering mechanism in a sample of 29 caregivers who were not affiliated to a support group and 30 caregivers in a support group residing in the areas within Polokoane Municipality. The instruments used were the General Well - Being Schedule (Dupuy, 1977), the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Griffin, 1985) and the Social Support Appraisal Scale (Vaux, Phillips, Holley, Thompson, William & Stewart, 1985). Findings revealed a positive correlation between satisfaction with life and social support appraisal for example in a support group. A negative correlation was found in caregivers who were not affiliated to a support group between social support appraisal and general well - being. Furthennore social support appraisal was found to be the best predictor of satisfaction with life. Additionally the fmdings revealed no significant difference in general well - being between the two groups. This study was however conducted in areas within the Polokoane Municipality using a small sample which limits the generalizability of findings. It is recommended that future studies use a larger and representative sample as well as instruments that have been culturally nonned. This study examined the psychological well - being of 30 caregivers of individuals with schizophrenia affiliated to Tshepo Family Support Group and 29 caregivers of people living with schizophrenia who were not affiliated to a support group. The study indicated the importance of being connected with other families living with people diagnosed with schizophrenia. By connecting with other families living with schizophrenia caregivers may not feel isolated and may also share the challenge of caring for someone with schizophrenia, this would increase the caregivers' psychological well - being.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, 2006.