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Uncertainty in Transition of African American Caregivers

The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the ambiguities and uncertainties experienced by a diverse group of African-American caregivers. The study applied Schlossberg's transition theory (TT) and Mishel’s revised uncertainty theory to narratives of self-identified African-American caregivers who provided care at least 5 h a week. The men (6) and women (8) were mostly unmarried, mostly caring for a parent or grandparent. The caregivers’ average age was 52 (SD = 19; ages ranged from 24 to 82 years); and the care recipients’ average age was 84 (SD = 9). Six care recipients had dementia and the remainder had multiple disease diagnoses. Narratives were obtained by in-depth interviews or focus group discussions. These were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim professionally and analyzed independently by trained coders. Schlossberg’s TT contextualized whereas Mishel’s RUIT illuminated the characteristics of the transition, its associated uncertainty, and their relationship to the development of caregiver stress. Situational factors such as difficulties with illness symptoms of the care recipient, conflict between previous experience and current expectations and the adjustments to the new caregiving role, burdened younger caregivers more than older caregivers. Self-factors related to lack of knowledge about the illness and feelings of lack of control. Social support was predominantly provided by family members, and its absence resulted in conflict among siblings and caregiver stress. The most common coping strategies include religiosity, expectations of reciprocity, and coming to terms with the uncertainty. Understanding the feelings, perceptions and needs of caregivers in transition is tantamount to providing nursing care. 

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Type of Reference
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Journal article
Taylor & Francis
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Issues in Mental Health Nursing
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