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LaVela SL, Pedersen J, Ehrlich-Jones L, Heinemann AW. Positive and negative ways that informal caregivers are affected by weight and weight management efforts for care recipients with spinal cord injury. Disability and rehabilitation. 2022 Nov 1; 44(23):7152-7160.
PURPOSE: To understand how informal caregivers are affected by weight and weight management of care recipients with SCI. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 24 informal caregivers of community-dwelling Veterans and civilians with SCI. Thematic analysis was conducted. RESULTS: Three themes described how the care recipient's weight management efforts impacted the caregiver, including: (1) motivation and involvement in weight management efforts for themselves, (2) emotional well-being (positive and negative aspects), and (3) physical tasks (both ease and burden). Caregivers may experience emotional and/or physical burden by taking on extra caregiving tasks to help with care recipient's weight management. Caregivers also may experience positive impacts from the care recipient's weight management efforts, regardless of who drove the efforts, including improvement in their own motivation and involvement in weight management, enhanced emotional well-being (happiness for and with the care-recipient), and making physical caregiving tasks easier. CONCLUSIONS: Rehabilitation providers can use these findings to educate dyads about potential impacts of weight management efforts for the care recipient, specifying areas that may cause burden but emphasizing the potential benefits for both recipient and caregiver. Integrating this education into rehabilitation practice may reduce overweight-related problems with function and declines in disability among dyads.Implications for RehabilitationInformal caregivers experience both positive and negative consequences with regard to weight management for individuals with SCI.Helping their loved one with weight management can facilitate informal caregivers' involvement in their own weight management activities.Findings may offer guidance to healthcare and rehabilitation providers as they incorporate weight management into education programs for informal caregivers of persons with SCI.Integrating this education into rehabilitation practice may reduce or delay overweight-related problems with function and declines in disability among dyads.