Objective: To investigate informal caregivers' attitudes toward respite care. Method: Interviews with informal caregivers during open-house support groups (three) for informal caregivers, conducted late 2004 at Informal Care Support Centres in the city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. A Q-methodological study was conducted. Informal caregivers were asked to rank-order 39 statements regarding motivation for providing informal care; supporting capacity; physical, psychological, practical, financial, relational and social obstacles; subjective burden; need for support; experienced support; and propensity and impediments to make use of respite care. In addition, respondents explained their Q-sort in writing and completed a questionnaire regarding characteristics of the caregiver, the care recipient, and the objective and subjective burden of their care giving situation. Individual Q-sorts were analysed using PQMethod 2.11 (statistical method factor analysis with a varimax rotation). Objective of Q-analysis was to reveal a limited number of corresponding ways the statements were sorted. For the factors identified, composite sorts were determined. Factors were interpreted and described using the composite sorts, differences and similarities in rank value of statements between factors and the explanations by respondents. Results: We found three distinct groups of caregivers: informal caregivers who need and ask for respite care, those who need but won't ask for respite care, and those that do not need respite care. Caregivers in the first two groups experience substantial burden, while those in the third group enjoy sufficient support and appear to manage pretty well. Caregivers in the second and third group derive considerable satisfaction from care giving. On balance, caregivers in the first two groups would sometimes rather have someone else take over their task. The first group feels misunderstood and undervalued by health and welfare organisations and has problems obtaining respite. The desire for respite of caregivers in the second group is not unambiguous, affected by care recipient resistance against respite. Conclusions: Respite care programmes should target caregivers in the first two groups. Regarding the second group, effort should be directed to both caregiver and care recipient. They need to be convinced that it is in their mutual interest to make the care giving task manageable in the long run, because they report serious burden from care giving coupled with a resistance to respite care.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.healthpol.2007.02.002, hdl.handle.net/1765/35731
Health Policy
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Exel, J., de Graaf, G., & Brouwer, W. (2007). Care for a break? An investigation of informal caregivers' attitudes toward respite care using Q-methodology. Health Policy, 83(2-3), 332–342. doi:10.1016/j.healthpol.2007.02.002