Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Medicine (MMed)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Fleur De Meijer

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Prof. Stanley Lutchers

Third Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Alphonce Nabiswa


Family Medicine (East Africa)


Introduction: In Africa, about 60% of patients with chronic mental health disorders live with their relatives. Family caregivers bear the responsibility of managing relatives with mental illness in the home environment, and this may result in psychopathology in the caregivers. Although extensively studied in the Western world, not much is known about the caregiver burden in Kenya.

Objectives: The primary objective of the study was to find out the prevalence of caregiver burden among family caregivers of patients with chronic mental illness attending two psychiatric care facilities in Nairobi. The secondary objective was to determine the socio-demographic characteristics and correlates associated with moderate to severe burden among family caregivers.

Methods: A cross-sectional, quantitative study using the Zarit Burden Interview scale was done amongst 284 caregivers of patients with chronic mental illness in two psychiatric care facilities in Nairobi. A cut-off score of above 40 was used to define caregiver burden. Independent associations between variables and caregiver burden were determined using the chi-square test, and simple regression. Variables with a p- value of

Results: The prevalence of caregiver burden was found to be 52.8% (95% CI 46.8-58.7%). The significant socio- demographic correlates were: the caregiver’s level of education (OR 0.195 95% CI 0.062-0.616), patient’s diagnosis (OR 3.345 95% CI 1.723-6.50) and the number of patient admissions (OR 1.486 95% CI 1.251-1.765).

Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of burden of care among family caregivers providing care for persons with mental disorders in the study population. Stakeholders at institutional and policy levels should therefore be vigilant on at-risk groups of caregivers, specifically those caring for patients with substance abuse disorders, and those caring for patients who have been admitted severally, and offer early interventions, such as counselling or support groups to equip caregivers with coping strategies that could potentially reduce caregiver burden.