Original Research

Experiences of family caregivers of persons living with mental illness: A meta-synthesis

Esther I. Ntsayagae, Marie Poggenpoel, Chris Myburgh
Curationis | Vol 42, No 1 | a1900 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v42i1.1900 | © 2019 Esther I. Ntsayagae, Marie Poggenpoel, Chris Myburgh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 January 2018 | Published: 19 September 2019

About the author(s)

Esther I. Ntsayagae, Department of Nursing Science, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Marie Poggenpoel, Department of Nursing Science, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Chris Myburgh, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Meta-synthesis is used to generate and understand new insights from a qualitative perspective. Caregiving is associated with a range of physical and psychological symptoms. Caregivers bear the brunt of caregiving and this has become worse since the inception of de-institutionalisation, as more patients are discharged into the community under the care of their families.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to synthesise phenomenological qualitative studies and create a comprehensive chronicle of phenomena of family caregivers’ experiences of caring for relatives living with mental illness.

Method: Google Scholar and different electronic databases, which included CINAHL, MEDLINE, EBSCO and PubMed, were searched using keywords for relevant studies published from 1994 to 2014. To obtain an in-depth view of caregivers’ lived experiences, a qualitative meta-synthesis was employed to review the findings of 10 studies.

Results: A total of 10 studies were included in the meta-synthesis. The family caregivers described their caregiving experiences under four themes: perceived responsibility of caregiving, experiences of emotional effect, experiences of support needs and experiences of changed perspective.

Conclusion: The meta-synthesis revealed a lack of emotional coping among the family caregivers. This calls for robust family caregiver interventions to facilitate their mental health.


caregiving; coping; experiences; family caregivers; mentally ill patients; meta-synthesis


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Crossref Citations

1. Caregivers’ Perspectives on Relapse and Suggestions for Rehabilitation: A Qualitative Study in the Eastern Region of Ghana
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Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Mental Health  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1007/s40737-023-00349-0