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The relationship between patient characteristics and carer psychological status in home palliative cancer care

Goals: Despite being both providers and intended recipients of care, informal carers in cancer palliative care report high levels of distress and unmet needs. In order to develop supportive care strategies, this analysis aimed to identify which patient characteristics contribute to carer psychological distress and which coping strategies carers employ.; Patients and Methods: Informal carers attending two home palliative care services gave cross-sectional data regarding patient characteristics and their own psychological status using standardised measures. Multivariate analyses were performed for each dependent carer psychological measure, with patient characteristics as independent variables (adjusted for carer age and gender).; Main Results: Forty-three carers participated. Greater patient distress was associated with carer anxiety (b value: magnitude of the effect) (b=0.31, p=0.07), and both patient psychological status (b=0.37, p=0.02) and pain (b=0.29, p=0.09) were associated with carer psychological morbidity. Carer burden was associated with patient psychological distress (b=0.35, p=0.03) and pain (b=0.29, p=0.08). Carer avoidance/emotion-focused cognitive coping strategies were associated with patient physical function (b=0.34, p=0.04), and cognitive problem-focused coping was associated with patient symptoms (b=0.28, p=0.06) and physical function (b=0.29, p=0.05). Conclusions: Adequate provision of patient psychological interventions and effective pain education and control are needed in order to improve carers' psychological health. Patient characteristics are associated with apparently opposing forms of carers' coping (i.e. both avoidance and engagement), demonstrating the importance of interventions addressing a range of coping responses. Further research is needed to understand why carers employ problem-focused coping in response to symptoms but not to pain. Evidence-based interventions for informal carers are urgently needed but must be delivered in the context of optimal patient pain and symptom control.

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Additional Titles
Supportive Care In Cancer: Official Journal Of The Multinational Association Of Supportive Care In Cancer

Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
ISBN/ISSN
0941-4355
Resource Database
Cmedm medline - exported 13/7/2016
Publication Year
2003
Issue Number
10
Volume Number
11
Start Page
638-643