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Family caregivers' distress levels related to quality of life, burden, and preparedness

Objective: Family caregivers (FCGs) caring for loved ones with lung cancer are at risk for psychological distress and impaired quality of life (QOL). This study explores the relationship between FCGs' distress, per the distress thermometer (DT) and FCGs' QOL, burden, and preparedness. The purpose is to identify types of problems unique to FCGs in cancer care.

Methods: Family caregivers of patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer were recruited from an adult outpatient setting at a comprehensive cancer center. Questionnaires included demographic information, City of Hope QOL Scale-Family Version, Caregiver Burden Scale, FCG preparedness, and DT. Baseline data were utilized for this analysis.

Results: Of the FCGs (N = 163), 68% were spouses, 64% female, and 34% worked full-time. FCG age ranged from 21 to 88 years with a mean of 57 years. FCGs cared for patients with non-small cell lung cancer stage I–III (44%) and stage IV (56%). Psychological distress (DT mean = 4.40) was moderate. DT scores were highly correlated with seven of the eight explanatory variables. Secondary principal components analysis of the explanatory variables combined correlated variables into three constructs identified as self-care component, FCG role component, and FCG stress component. Simultaneous multiple regression of distress onto the three components showed they accounted for 49% of the variance in distress.

Conclusion: This exploration of FCGs' concerns associated with elevated distress scores, as measured by the DT, helped identify three component problem areas. These areas warrant further psychosocial assessment and intervention to support FCGs as they care for the patient with cancer. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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