Coping with patients suffering from overactive bladder: experiences of family caregivers in Hong Kong

This article examines the experiences of family caregivers working with patients affected by overactive bladder (OAB) in Hong Kong. Chronic diseases create physical and emotional burdens not only for patients but also for family caregivers, who often experience physical and emotional burnout and social impairment. Extensive literature has pertained to caregiver experiences in western and non-western settings; however, few studies have addressed the livelihoods and experiences of family caregivers of patients with OAB in ethnic Chinese communities. Because of the increasing prevalence of OAB worldwide, this study investigated the experiences of such caregivers in Hong Kong, examining their emotional and social needs. A qualitative research design with individual semistructured interviews was adopted, and snowball sampling was used to recruit 35 family caregivers who were referred by patients with OAB. The participants were interviewed individually from May to August 2013. A phenomenological approach was adopted in the data analysis. The data revealed that all participants had unpleasant experiences in caring for family members with OAB. A sense of powerlessness, helplessness, confusion and guilt, as well as grievances and social withdrawal, was prevalent, causing great physical and emotional suffering and subsequent physical and emotional burnout. These negative experiences were often caused by confusion regarding caretaking duties. The negative emotions of the participants and their family members also caused a lack of communication and mutual understanding about the disease, causing care-giving to be even more confusing and difficult. Furthermore, because of traditional Chinese cultural values and gender expectations, male participants experienced the triple burden of employment, domestic duties and care-giving. More holistic social and healthcare support services should be provided for care-giving family members of patients with OAB patients, empowering such caregivers to attend to family members and care for their own emotional well-being.

Health & social care in the community. 2015 Sep 28 [Epub ahead of print]

Judy Yuen-Man Siu

David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies (Environment, Health, and Sustainability Working Group), Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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