Evidence suggests that caring for a child with special health care needs can affect many domains of family life, including caregiver mental health. However, few studies have examined these outcomes among families impacted by the Zika virus (ZIKV). This study examines depressive symptom severity and care demands among primary caregivers of children, aged 15 to 26 months, with evidence of congenital Zika virus infection (ZVI).
A sample of primary caregivers of children with evidence of congenital ZVI in northeastern Brazil (n = 150) reported on depressive symptoms, care demands, and their children's development. Children were categorized into groups according to their developmental delay status. Bivariate analyses were run to test for differences between groups. A path analysis model was used to examine the indirect effects of developmental delay on depressive symptoms through economic challenges and time spent providing health care at home and whether these associations varied by child care support.
Compared to primary caregivers of children without developmental delay, primary caregivers of children with developmental delay had higher depression scores (p = 0.002), reported more economic (p < 0.001) and child care (p < 0.001) challenges, and spent more time providing health care at home (p < 0.001). Among primary caregivers who did not have child care support, developmental delay had a significant indirect effect on depressive symptoms through economic challenges but not through time spent providing health care at home.
For families impacted by the ZIKV outbreak in Brazil, economic and child care challenges may be associated with primary caregiver mental health.