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Hospice Family Caregivers' Use of Audio Diaries: Preliminary Findings (GP793)

Objectives: • Describe the implications of emotional processing of stressful events for hospice family caregivers. • Interpret preliminary findings from textual data analysis of hospice family caregiver diaries.  Importance: Evidence suggests that meaning-making and emotional processing can improve home hospice family caregivers' (HFCs) well-being. Previous work has used diary writing to process stressful events; in the current study, HFCs were asked to record brief daily audio diaries.  Objective(s): To determine the feasibility of capturing audio diaries and describe diary content.  Method(s): In an ongoing multi-site, multi-method prospective longitudinal study, HFCs of cancer patients report daily fluctuation of patient and their own symptoms via an automated telephone system. Additionally they are randomly assigned to: discuss additional symptoms or to discuss their thoughts/feelings. Thirty-six (85.7%) participants to date have completed at least one audio diary. For this preliminary analysis, we selected 14 diary recordings/condition (n=28) to describe and compare.  Results: Participants are 78.6% female, on average 53.0 years old, and most are a spouse/partner (46.4%) or a child (35.7%) caregiver. Audio data were transcribed and aggregated by condition. Both Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) and NVivo 12 were used to analyze word use. Time was the most common theme in both conditions, but was more common in the symptom condition (p=.08). There was no difference in overall negative/positive word valence use, with 23% positivity and 77% negativity across both groups. However, a significant difference in the use of specific emotion words was found; the thoughts/feeling condition used more anger-related words (p=.04), while the symptom condition used more anxiety words (p=.003).  Conclusion(s): Our preliminary findings suggest that most HFCs will use audio diaries to express concerns and that the focus of open-ended prompts may facilitate different emotional expression.  Impact: Low-cost, easy-to-use audio diaries may be a useful emotional processing tool for HFCs. Future research is warranted of a larger HFC sample examining their repeated daily use of audio diaries to assess for impact on emotional well-being and bereavement adjustment.

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Journal of Pain & Symptom Management
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