"I have got something positive out of this situation": Psychological benefits of caregiving in relatives of young people with muscular dystrophy

Lorenza Magliano, Melania Patalano, Alessandra Sagliocchi, Marianna Scutifero, Antonella Zaccaro, Maria Grazia D'Angelo, Federica Civati, Erika Brighina, Giuseppe Vita, Gian Luca Vita, Sonia Messina, Maria Sframeli, Marika Pane, Maria Elena Lombardo, Roberta Scalise, Adele D'Amico, Giulia Colia, Michela Catteruccia, Umberto Balottin, Angela BerardinelliMaria Chiara Motta, Corrado Angelini, Alessandra Gaiani, Claudio Semplicini, Luca Bello, Roberta Battini, Guja Astrea, Giulia Ricci, Luisa Politano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses on the psychological benefits of caregiving in key relatives of patients with muscular dystrophies (MD), a group of rare diseases characterized by progressive weakness and restriction of the patient's functional abilities. We describe whether relatives perceived caregiving to be a positive experience and test whether relatives' perceptions vary in relation to their view of the patient as a valued person, the degree of involvement in care, and the level of support provided by social network and professionals. The study sample included 502 key relatives of patients aged 4-25 years, suffering from Duchenne, Becker, or limb-girdle MD, in treatment for at least 6 months to one of the eight participating centers, living with at least one relative aged 18-80 years. Of key relatives, 88 % stated that they had gotten something positive out of the situation, 96 % considered their patients to be sensitive, and 94 % viewed their patients as talented. Positive aspects of caregiving were more recognized by key relatives who were more convinced that the patient was sensitive and who perceived that they received higher level of professional help and psychological social support. These results suggest that most key relatives consider that their caregiving experience has had a positive impact on their lives, despite the practical difficulties of caring for patients with MD. Professionals should help relatives to identify the benefits of caregiving without denying its difficulties. Clinicians themselves should develop positive attitudes towards family involvement in the care of patients with long-term diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-195
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Caregiving
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Professional support
  • Psychological benefits
  • Social network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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