Caring for an autistic child places significant stress on the lives of family members. To date, no study has evaluated how looking after a child with autism affects quality of life (QoL) of caregivers in Qatar or the Gulf country region. Our study is aimed at quantifying the health-related QoL of caregivers of children with autism in Qatar.

We recruited two groups of caregivers of children between 3 to17 years old. The first group was formed of caregivers of children with autism from two developmental paediatric rehabilitation clinics, and the second group was formed of caregivers of typically-growing children and who were visiting a family clinic for routine medical check-up. Demographic information of all caregivers and children were collected. The Arabic version of the Short Form-36 (SF-36), which is a generic type questionnaire, was administered to caregivers in both groups to assess QoL.

A total of 98 participants consented to take part in the study. 56 were caregivers of children with autism, and 42 were caregivers of a typically-growing children. There was no statistically significant difference in QoL domains between both groups, but caregivers of autistic children rated their health as poor and likely to get worse (p=0.003). Mental health components were consistently poorer than the physical components in the autistic group, and female caregivers had poorer mental health than males in this cohort of participants (p<0.05).

This study provided evidence for the impact of caring for a child with autism on the life of the caregiver. However, there seems to be a need to develop condition-specific QoL questionnaires that can specifically measure QoL in caregivers of autistic children more accurately than generic questionnaires. The findings should still help health policy-makers provide more focused support to the children with autism and their families.


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