Inguinal hernia significantly affects family and other informal caregivers, and hernia repair will significantly reduce caregiver burden.
We analyzed data from a Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study with mixed models to compare the level of burden among caregivers of inguinal hernia patients from preoperative measurement to measurement at 2 weeks and at 3 months postoperatively.
Most caregivers were wives (73%) and lived with the patients (88%). There were no differences in caregiver burden by type of treatment. The time caregivers spent assisting patients increased significantly over the 2 weeks following treatment (odds ratio, 4.34). In contrast, 3 months after treatment, caregivers reported spending less time on additional chores than before treatment (odds ratio, 0.12). Furthermore, caregivers' concerns about patients' abilities to perform normal household activities decreased by 2 weeks posttreatment (odds ratio, 0.52). Wives/girlfriends and caregivers of patients with complications were more likely to report these concerns.
Inguinal hernia and its repair significantly affect informal caregivers. Caregivers assumed the heaviest time and effort-related burden 2 weeks following hernia repair and expended additional effort if the patient experienced complications. Interventions should reflect when burden is greatest and target the subgroups of caregivers who most need support.