AIMS: To evaluate the effectiveness of a two-session multicomponent family strengths- oriented therapeutic conversation intervention among family caregivers of an individual with advanced/final stage cancer during ongoing palliative home-care.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers of patients in the advanced/final phases of cancer, experience multifaceted psychological distress and morbidity. Psychosocial interventions improve the well-being of family members who are caring for their close relative.
DESIGN: A pre-experimental design with a one-group pre-test/posttests measurements.
METHODS: Forty-eight family caregivers were assigned to receive two 60-90 min sessions of the intervention. The primary outcome was perceived emotional and cognitive support and psychological well-being, measured at baseline (T1). Then the participants were offered the first session of the intervention. About one week later, the second session was administered. The participants answered the same questionnaires again (T2) and then 2-4 weeks later (T3). The guideline; Criteria for Reporting Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions 2, guided the reporting of the study.
RESULTS: Family caregivers reported significantly higher emotional and cognitive support post-intervention (T2) and (T3). They also reported significantly reduced stress symptoms at (T3) and reduced caregiver burden post-intervention (T2) and at (T3).
CONCLUSION: The provision of the intervention contributed to extending knowledge about the usefulness of family conversations in the context of advanced/final stage cancer care.
IMPACT: There is a lack of knowledge regarding the benefit of therapeutic conversations interventions for family caregivers. The therapeutic conversation intervention offered, resulted in perceived support, decreased stress and decreased caregiving demands among caregivers in palliative home-care. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
OBJECTIVE: The unique needs of caregivers of those with advanced heart failure (HF) are not effectively being met, and reports of physical and mental health challenges are common. The objective is to identify the current state of the literature related to family caregivers of persons with advanced HF, ascertain gaps that require further exploration, and provide preliminary practice recommendations based on the results.
METHOD: Systematic review of quantitative and qualitative literature. A search of CINAHL, Medline, EMBASE, and PubMed identified 24 articles that met inclusion criteria. Data were analyzed using the constant comparison method and coded. Thematic analysis was used to develop themes.
RESULT: Sixteen qualitative and seven quantitative studies met inclusion criteria. Analysis of these studies identified six key areas: (1) undertaking a journey in a state of flux, (2) gaining strength, (3) forgetting oneself along the way, (4) seeking out sources of support, (5) preparing for end of life, and (6) finding closure.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: The healthcare system currently struggles to meet the care demands of patients with chronic conditions such as advanced HF; as such, informal caregivers are undertaking key roles in the management of symptoms and promotion of the health of those with advanced HF. When caregivers are not adequately prepared for their role, both patient and caregiver well-being is compromised; therefore, a deeper understanding of the caregiving experience could assist in identifying the cause of caregiver anxiety and result in the development of strategies to minimize its effects. Overall, this review will also contribute to improving the current practice when working with caregivers of persons with advanced HF and serve as a basis for development of evidence informed interventions in the future.
BACKGROUND: It is often suggested that terminally ill patients favour end-of-life care at home. Yet, it is unclear how these preferences are formed, if the process is similar for patients and family caregivers, and if there are discrepancies between preferences for place of care and place of death. Understanding these nuances is essential to support people in their decision-making and ultimately provide better care at the end-of-life.
AIM: To gain an in-depth understanding of how terminally ill patients and their family caregivers make decisions about preferred place of care and place of death.
DESIGN: Semi-structured interviews with patients and family caregivers, which were analysed thematically using qualitative description.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A total of 17 participants (8 patients and 9 caregivers) recruited from an acute palliative care hospital ward, a sub-acute hospice unit, and a palliative homecare organisation in Melbourne, Australia.
RESULTS: The process of forming location preferences was shaped by uncertainty relating to the illness, the caregiver and the services. Patients and caregivers dealt with this uncertainty on a level of thoughts, emotions, and actions. At the end of this process, patients and caregivers expressed their choices as contextual, personal, relational, conditional and flexible preferences.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that in many cases end-of-life decision-making does not conclude with a clear and stable choice. Understanding the reasons for the malleability of preferences and the process of how they are formed has implications for both clinicians and researchers.
Informal hospice caregivers often have difficulty managing patient pain at home. We developed a digital application, e-Pain Reporter, for informal caregivers to record and providers to monitor patient pain and pain management. The purpose of this study was (1) to assess the feasibility of informal caregivers using the e-Pain Reporter for 9 days in home hospice by investigating recruitment and retention and caregiver satisfaction with and frequency of use of the e-Pain Reporter and (2) describe patient pain characteristics and caregiver’s barriers to pain management and self-efficacy in providing patient care in the home. One-group pre-post design was used. Patient-caregiver dyads were recruited from 1 hospice agency. Caregivers were asked to report all patient pain and pain management using the e-Pain Reporter. Feasibility of the e-Pain Reporter was assessed by the average number of times caregivers recorded breakthrough and daily pain and caregiver satisfaction with the app. The 27-item Barriers Questionnaire II and 21-item Caregiver Self-efficacy Scale were administered at baseline. Fourteen dyads enrolled, 2 patients died, and 12 dyads completed the study. Mean number of pain reports over 9 days was 10.5. Caregivers reported high overall satisfaction with the e-Pain Reporter. Barriers scores were moderately high, suggesting erroneous beliefs and misconceptions about pain reporting and use of analgesics, but self-efficacy in managing pain was also high (93% confidence). Findings suggest that the e-Pain Reporter is a feasible method to report and monitor caregiver management of pain at home. Caregiver high barriers and high overconfidence suggest the need for an educational component to the e-Pain Reporter to address misconceptions about pain and pain management.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers are crucial in end-of-life care. However, family caregiving may involve a significant burden with various negative health consequences. Although nurses are in a unique position to support family caregivers at home, little is known about which nursing interventions are effective in this context. Therefore, this study aims to provide insight into nursing interventions currently available to support family caregivers in end-of-life care at home and to describe their effects.
METHODS: A systematic search was conducted in Embase, Medline Ovid, Web of Science, Cochrane Central, CINAHL and Google Scholar. This review included quantitative studies published from January 2003 until December 2018 reporting on nursing interventions to support adult family caregivers in end-of-life care at home. Data were extracted on intervention modalities, intervention components, and family caregivers' outcomes. Methodological quality of the studies was assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool.
RESULTS: Out of 1531 titles, nine publications were included that reported on eight studies/eight interventions. Of the eight studies, three were randomised controlled trials, one a pilot randomised trial, one a non-randomised trial, and three were single-group prospective studies. Four intervention components were identified: psychoeducation, needs assessment, practical support with caregiving, and peer support. Psychoeducation was the most commonly occurring component. Nursing interventions had a positive effect on the preparedness, competence, rewards, and burden of family caregivers. Multicomponent interventions were the most effective with, potentially, the components 'needs assessment' and 'psychoeducation' being the most effective.
CONCLUSIONS: Although only eight studies are available on nursing interventions to support family caregivers in end-of-life care at home, they show that interventions can have a positive effect on family caregivers' outcomes. Multicomponent interventions proved to be the most successful, implying that nurses should combine different components when supporting family caregivers.
OBJECTIVE: The Canadian province of Quebec has recently legalized medical aid in dying (MAID) for competent patients who satisfy strictly defined criteria. The province is considering extending the practice to incompetent patients. We compared the attitudes of four groups of stakeholders toward extending MAID to incompetent patients with dementia.
METHODS: We conducted a province-wide postal survey in random samples of older adults, informal caregivers of persons with dementia, nurses, and physicians caring for patients with dementia. Clinical vignettes featuring a patient with Alzheimer's disease were used to measure the acceptability of extending MAID to incompetent patients with dementia. Vignettes varied according to the stage of the disease (advanced or terminal) and type of request (written or oral only). We used the generalized estimating equation (GEE) approach to compare attitudes across groups and vignettes.
RESULTS: Response rates ranged from 25% for physicians to 69% for informal caregivers. In all four groups, the proportion of respondents who felt it was acceptable to extend MAID to an incompetent patient with dementia was highest when the patient was at the terminal stage, showed signs of distress, and had written a MAID request prior to losing capacity. In those circumstances, this proportion ranged from 71% among physicians to 91% among informal caregivers.
CONCLUSION: We found high support in Quebec for extending the current MAID legislation to incompetent patients with dementia who have reached the terminal stage, appear to be suffering, and had requested MAID in writing while still competent.
OBJECTIVE: The study of predeath grief is hampered by measures that are often lengthy and not clearly differentiated from other caregiving outcomes, most notably burden. We aimed to validate a new 11-item Caregiver Grief Questionnaire (CGQ) assessing two dimensions of predeath grief, namely relational deprivation and emotional pain.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.
SETTING: Community and psychogeriatric clinics.
PARTICIPANTS: 173 Alzheimer (AD) caregivers who cared for relatives with different degrees of severity (63 mild, 60 moderate, and 50 severe).
MEASUREMENTS: Besides the CGQ, measures of caregiver burden and depressive symptoms, and care-recipients' neuropsychiatric symptoms and functional impairment were assessed.
RESULTS: Confirmatory factor analysis supported the hypothesized 2-factor over the 1-factor model, and both subscales were only moderately correlated with burden. Two-week test-retest reliabilities were excellent. Caregivers for mild AD reported less grief than those caring for more severe relatives. Z tests revealed significantly different correlational patterns for the two dimensions, with emotional pain more related to global burden and depressive symptoms, and relational deprivation more related to care-recipients' functional impairment. Both dimensions were mildly correlated with neuropsychiatric symptoms (especially disruptive behaviors and psychotic symptoms) of the care-recipient.
CONCLUSIONS: Results supported the reliability and validity of the two-dimensional measure of predeath grief. As a brief measure, it can be readily added to research instruments to facilitate study of this important phenomenon along with other caregiving outcomes.
Background: Dementia is a terminal illness making the palliative and hospice approach to care appropriate for older people with advanced dementia.
Objective: To examine clinical and health services outcomes of a quality improvement pilot project to provide home hospice care for older people with advanced dementia.
Study design: Twenty older people with advanced dementia being treated in the Maccabi Healthcare Services homecare program, received home hospice care as an extension of their usual care for 6–7 months (or until they died) from a multidisciplinary team who were available 24/7. Family members were interviewed using validated questionnaires about symptom management, satisfaction with care, and caregiver burden. Hospitalizations prevented and medications discontinued, were determined by medical record review and team consensus.
Findings: The findings are based on 112 months of care with an average of 5.6 (SD 1.6) months per participant. The participants were on average 83.5 (SD 8.6) years old, 70% women, in homecare for 2.8 (SD 2.0) years, had dementia for 5.6 (SD 3.6) years with multiple comorbidities, and had been hospitalized for an average of 14.0 (SD 18.1) days in the year prior to the project. Four patients were fed via artificial nutrition. During the pilot project, 4 patients died, 2 patients withdrew, 1 patient was transferred to a nursing home and 13 returned to their usual homecare program. The home hospice program lead to significant (p < 0.001)improvement in: symptom management (score of 33.8 on admission on the Volicer symptom management scale increased to 38.3 on discharge), in satisfaction with care (27.5 to 35.3,), and a significant decline in caregiver burden (12.1 to 1.4 on the Zarit Burden index). There were five hospitalizations, and 33 hospitalizations prevented, and an average of 2.1(SD 1.4) medications discontinued per participant. Family members reported that the professionalism and 24/7 availability of the staff provided the added value of the program.
Conclusions: This pilot quality improvement project suggests that home hospice care for older people with advanced dementia can improve symptom management and caregiver satisfaction, while decreasing caregiver burden, preventing hospitalizations and discontinuing unnecessary medications. Identifying older people with advanced dementia with a 6 month prognosis remains a major challenge.
BACKGROUND: Although palliative care is expanding globally for patients with serious illness, Turkey has not had widespread integration of early concurrent oncology palliative care. Hence, adapting and testing models of concurrent oncology palliative care for Turkish patients is imperative. Furthermore, it is critical that these care models also address the needs of family caregivers.
OBJECTIVE: To assess needs and elicit suggestions that would inform the adaptation of the ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) evidence-based early palliative care model for Turkish family caregivers of older persons with cancer.
METHODS: Formative evaluation study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 primary family caregivers of older individuals with cancer. Thematic analyses yielded themes in four domains: meaning of caregiving, effect of caregiving, education and consulting needs, and preferences about the delivery of the ENABLE model of palliative care support.
RESULTS: Caregivers described the impact of the cancer on their daily lives and responsibilities in the areas of physical, psychological, work, social, and family life. Caregivers emphasized their needs for information about symptoms, physical care, cancer pathology, and prognosis. Regarding the ENABLE model of early concurrent palliative care, participants wanted encounters to be in-person with educational material support that was simple and focused on disease information (prognosis, medication, handling emergency situations), psychological support, caring, nutrition, and acquiring community services.
CONCLUSION: Themes from this study will be used to modify the ENABLE intervention protocol for future pilot and efficacy testing in Turkish caregivers.
Less is known about how caregivers prepare (or not) for the death of a family member with dementia. This study's purpose was to explore how caregivers handle these dementia deaths, including identification of barriers and facilitators to preparing caregivers for the death of an elder family member dying with dementia. This qualitative, descriptive study employed a purposive sampling strategy in which the principal investigator interviewed 36 caregivers of family members age 65 and older who died from a dementia-related diagnosis. Directed content analysis was used to analyze the data. Four primary themes were identified as barriers: (1) hindrances to information; (2) barriers to hospice; (3) ineffective attempts to comfort; and (4) the nature of death with dementia. Six themes were identified as facilitators: (1) religious/spiritual beliefs; (2) caregiver initiative; (3) prior experience; (4) bearing witness to decline; (5) professionals alerting caregiver (of what to expect of impending death); and (6) culture and legacy of family caregiving. The results support an increased role of social work in addressing caregivers' awareness of impending death and helping prepare them for the death of an elder with dementia.
OBJECTIVES: Family caregivers of hospice patients have multiple needs as they try to cope during a stressful time. Translatable interventions effective in improving caregiver outcomes are greatly needed. Our objective was to assess the impact of a problem-solving intervention (called Problem-Solving Intervention to Support Caregivers in End-of-Life Care Settings [PISCES]) to support hospice caregivers on caregiver quality of life and anxiety, and compare its effectiveness delivered face to face and via videoconferencing.
DESIGN: In this 4-year randomized clinical trial, caregivers were randomly assigned to a group receiving standard care with added "friendly calls" (attention control [AC] group), a group receiving standard care and PISCES delivered face to face (F2F), or a group receiving standard care and PISCES delivered via videoconferencing (VC).
SETTING: Home hospice.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 514 caregivers participated (172 in AC, 171 in F2F, and 171 in VC). Caregivers were predominantly female (75%); mean age was 60.3 years.
INTERVENTION: PISCES includes a structured curriculum delivered in three sessions and motivates caregivers to adopt a positive attitude, define problems by obtaining facts, set goals, and generate and evaluate solutions.
MEASUREMENTS: Quality of life was measured by the Caregiver Quality of Life Index-Revised; anxiety was measured by the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-Item. Other measures included the Caregiver Reaction Assessment scale, demographic data, and an exit interview.
RESULTS: Compared with AC, caregivers in the F2F condition had postintervention reduced anxiety (-1.31 [95% confidence interval [CI] = -2.11 to .50]; p = .004) and improved social (.57 [95% CI = .19-.95]; p = .01), financial (.57 [95% CI = .21-.93]; p = .004), and physical quality of life (.53 [95% CI = .19-.87]; p = .01). There were no differences in caregivers in the VC condition compared with the AC condition.
CONCLUSION: The PISCES intervention improves caregiver outcomes and is effective when delivered in person. How to integrate technology to reduce the intervention delivery cost warrants further investigation.
BACKGROUND: Nursing homes are becoming a common site where delivering end-of-life care for older adults. They often represent the junction between the curative and the palliative phase.
AIM: To identify the elements that nursing home residents' family carers perceive as good end-of-life care and develop a conceptual model of good end-of-life care according to the family perspective.
DESIGN: Systematic review (PROSPERO no. 95581) with meta-aggregation method.
DATA SOURCES: Five electronic databases were searched from inception between April and May 2018. Published qualitative studies (and mixed-method designs) of end-of-life care experience of nursing home family carers whose relative was dead or at the end-of-life were included. No language or temporal limits were applied.
RESULTS: In all, 18 studies met inclusion criteria. A 'life crisis' often resulted in a changed need of care, and the transition towards palliative care was sustained by a 'patient-centered environment'. Family carers described good end-of-life care as providing resident basic care and spiritual support; recognizing and treating symptoms; assuring continuity in care; respecting resident's end-of-life wishes; offering environmental, emotional and psychosocial support; keeping family informed; promoting family understanding; and establishing a partnership with family carers by involving and guiding them in a shared decision-making. These elements improved the quality of end-of-life of both residents and their family, thus suggesting a common ground between good end-of-life care and palliative care.
CONCLUSION: The findings provide a family-driven framework to guide a sensitive and compassionate transition towards palliative care in nursing home.
OBJECTIVE: Despite their key role in caring for individuals with serious, chronic illness, there have been no national studies examining family caregiver awareness and perceptions of palliative care. Hence, our objectives were to ascertain level of knowledge of palliative care among U.S. family caregivers and describe demographic variation in awareness and perceptions of palliative care.
METHOD: Using the 2018 National Cancer Institute Health Information National Trends Survey, we identified unpaid family caregivers caring or making healthcare decisions for someone with a medical, behavioral, disability, or other condition. Respondents were asked about their awareness of the term "palliative care" and, if aware, how much they agreed with statements representing common (mis)perceptions about palliative care (e.g., "Palliative care is the same as hospice"). Result: More than one-half of caregivers (55%) had "never heard" of palliative care; 19.2% knew what palliative care was and "could explain it to someone else." In adjusted models, racial minorities (vs. whites) and those without a college degree were less likely to have heard of palliative care. Among those aware of palliative care, ~40% "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed that "Palliative care is the same as hospice"; another 10.5% "didn't know." Similarly, 40% reported that "When I think of palliative care, I automatically think of death."
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS : One-half of family caregivers of adults with serious chronic illness have never heard of palliative care. Even among those who had heard of palliative care, the majority do not distinguish it from hospice care and death. Given the role family caregivers may play in decisions to access palliative care, public messaging efforts are needed to clarify palliative care services in a way that is patient- and family-centered.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care for older people with life-limiting diseases often involves informal caregivers, but the palliative care literature seldom focuses on the negative and positive aspects of informal caregiving.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the association of proximity to end of life (EOL) and dementia caregiving with informal caregivers' burden of care and positive experiences and explain differences in outcomes.
DESIGN: Data on 1267 informal caregivers of community-dwelling older people were selected from a nationally representative cross-sectional survey and analyzed using analysis of variance and multivariable regression analyses.
MEASUREMENTS: The Self-Perceived Pressure from Informal Care Scale and the Positive Experiences Scale were administered to assess caregiver burden and positive experiences with providing care.
RESULTS: Dementia care, both at EOL and not at EOL, was associated with the most caregiver burden relative to regular care. Dementia care not at EOL was associated with the fewest positive experiences, and EOL care not in dementia with the most positive experiences. Only the differences in burden of care could be explained by variables related to stressors based on Pearlin stress-coping model.
CONCLUSIONS: Informal caregivers of people with dementia are at risk not only of high caregiver burden but also of missing out on positive experiences associated with caregiving at EOL. Future research should examine how dementia-related factors reduce positive caregiving experiences, in order to make palliative care a positive reality for those providing informal care to community-dwelling persons with dementia.
INTRODUCTION: In the United States, informal caregivers (ICs) provide care to over 70% of patients at the end of life. Approximately 500 000 ICs contribute to the end-of-life care for patients in the United Kingdom. Hospice care is expanding worldwide to meet the needs of these ICs. Because ICs play an instrumental role in the provision of hospice services, and their perspective of their needs of formal services requires further clarity, the purpose of this review is to synthesize research that elucidates perceptions of ICs regarding their experiences with hospice providers.
METHODS: Twelve research studies regarding perceptions of informal hospice caregivers were obtained by searching CINAHL, PsycINFO, and MEDLINE databases.
RESULTS: Four primary themes emerged that describe what ICs perceive as beneficial contributions of hospice providers in aiding their caregiving: providing easy access to desired care, building up the caregiver, forming a relationship, and utilizing culturally relevant interpersonal skills.
CONCLUSION: Particular attention must be paid to ensuring that the IC is acknowledged as an expert part of the team. Clearly explaining available services, creating better ways to ease the IC's transition from caregiving to bereavement, and recruiting minority hospice providers are other important efforts that could improve the caregiving experience. The needs of ICs are complex, but by listening to their perspective, we can begin to clarify the best ways to aid them in their difficult job.
Chinese family caregivers of dementia patients suffer considerable grief in their caregiving activity; little research has been conducted on dementia caregivers' grief in China. This study aims to (a) confirm the factor structure of the Mandarin version of the Marwit-Meuser Caregiver Grief Inventory-Short Form (MM-CGI-SF), (b) evaluate the levels of family caregivers' grief, and (c) explore the best predictors of family caregivers' grief. A cross-sectional study was conducted to collect data from 91 caregivers of dementia patients. The Mandarin version of the MM-CGI-SF had a three-factor structure. Family caregivers' grief was at an average level. Family caregivers' monthly household income and caring time per day predicted their own grief. The Mandarin version of the MM-CGI-SF possessed the same factor structure as the original English version, and the Chinese family caregivers experienced an average grief which was predicted by the monthly household income and caring time per day of the caregivers.
CONTEXT: The goal of advance care planning (ACP) is to help ensure that the care people receive during periods of serious illness is consistent with their preferences and values. There is a lack of clear understanding about how patients and their informal carers feel ACP discussions should be conducted.
OBJECTIVES: To synthesise literature reviews pertaining to patients' and informal carers' perspectives on ACP discussions.
METHODS: Systematic review of reviews RESULTS: We identified 55 literature reviews published between 2007 and 2018. ACP discussions were facilitated by a diverse range of formats and tools, all of which were acceptable to patients and carers. Patients and carers preferred health professionals to initiate discussions, with the relationships they had with the professionals being particularly important. There were mixed feelings about the best timing, with many people preferring to defer discussions until they perceived them to be clinically relevant. ACP was felt to bring benefits including a greater sense of peace and less worry, but it could also be disruptive and distressing. Patients and carers perceived many benefits from ACP discussions, but these may differ from the dominant narratives about ACP in health policy and may move away from the narratives of RCTs and standardisation in research and practice.
CONCLUSIONS: Researchers and clinicians may need to adjust their approaches as current practices are not aligned enough with patient and carer preferences. Future research may need to test implementation strategies of ACP interventions to elucidate how benefits from standardisation and flexibility might both be realised.
CONTEXT: Postloss depressive-symptom trajectories are heterogeneous and predicted by preloss psychosocial resources, but this evidence was from one old study on terminal cancer patients' caregivers for whom these issues are highly relevant.
OBJECTIVES: To identify depressive-symptom trajectories among cancer patients' bereaved caregivers and examine if they are predicted by preloss psychosocial resources while considering caregiving burden.
METHODS: Preloss psychosocial resources (sense of coherence [SOC] and social support) were measured among 282 caregivers. Depressive symptoms were measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression [CES-D] scale 1, 3, 6, 13, 18, and 24 months postloss (CES-D scores >16 indicate severe depressive symptoms). Distinct depressive-symptom trajectories and their predictors were identified by latent-class growth analysis.
RESULTS: We identified five depressive-symptom trajectories (prevalence): endurance (47.2%), resilience (16.7%), transient-reaction (20.2%), prolonged symptomatic (11.7%), and chronically distressed (4.2%). Over 2 years postloss, the endurance group never experienced severe depressive symptoms. Severe depressive symptoms lasted 6, 7-12, and 18 months for the resilience, transient-reaction, and prolonged-symptomatic groups, respectively. The chronically distressed group's severe depressive symptoms persisted. The endurance and chronically distressed groups had the best and weakest psychological resources, respectively. Endurance-group caregivers perceived the greatest social support, whereas the resilience and transient-reaction groups had higher social support than the prolonged-symptomatic group.
CONCLUSIONS: Most (84.1%) caregivers' depressive symptoms subsided within 1-year postloss. Preloss psychosocial resources predicted depressive-symptom trajectories for bereaved caregivers. Healthcare professionals can help caregivers adjust their bereavement by providing support to enhance their SOC and encouraging social contacts while they are providing end-of-life care.
PURPOSE: Although it is accepted that in general spousal caregivers of patients with cancer are under high emotional and physical strain, little is known about the quality of life specifically among spousal caregivers of older cancer patients. The aim of the current study is to explore the emotional toll of spousal caregivers of cancer patients aged 65-85 years.
METHODS: This study surveyed 242 spousal caregivers of patients = 65 years old, diagnosed with cancer, treated with curative or palliative intent, and within 6 months of treatment at enrollment. Standardized measures completed by the caregivers included depression measure (Geriatric Depression Scale); distress (Distress Thermometer); and social support (the Cancer Perceived Agents of Social Support). Logistic regression analyses were used in order to identify the predictor of clinical depression and distress. The analyses were adjusted for patient (sociodemographic, functional performance, and medical status) and caregiver (sociodemographic and social support) factors.
RESULTS: Among the caregivers, the frequencies of clinical depression and distress were 16.5% and 28% respectively. Increasing patient age and time from diagnosis were associated with reduced levels of caregiver depression. Higher levels of friends and spousal support (support from the patients) were associated with non-clinical levels of depression and distress.
CONCLUSION: Increasing patient age and caregiver's perceived spousal support may both have a positive effect on caregivers' levels of depression. This can be utilized by clinicians in the process of empowering older patients and their spousal caregivers to confront the challenges of cancer treatment into advanced old age.
This article investigates longitudinal variations in grief, self-rated health, and symptoms of anxiety and depression among family caregivers in palliative care. Data were taken from a randomized psycho-educational intervention trial and were collected at four time-points; at baseline, upon completion, 2 months later, and 6 months after the patient’s death. In total, 117 family caregivers completed all questionnaires. The participants’ grief was stable across the measurements, while anxiety, depression, and health varied significantly (p < 0.05). No significant differences were found between the intervention or control group. In conclusion, grief emerged as a constant phenomenon, distinct from symptoms of anxiety and depression.