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Assessment of burden and coping strategies among caregivers of cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa

Background: Cancer is a devastating and debilitating chronic disease that affects both patients and family members. Available evidence has confirmed that the care of chronically ill relatives by family members can be very challenging. This is because caregiving of cancer patients often presents a high level of burden on the caregivers. Consequently, this leads to a necessity to adopt coping mechanisms to cushion the effect of the burden experienced during caregiving.; Aim: To determine the burden experienced and coping strategies among caregivers of advanced cancer patients attending University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Cross River State, Nigeria.; Methods: The study adopted a descriptive cross-sectional study design and the study population included informal family caregivers providing services to histologically diagnosed advanced cancer patients receiving treatment at the UCTH at the time of this survey. A researcher-developed structured questionnaire, a 22-item standardized validated Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) and a modified 17-item Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced (COPE) Inventory were used to collect data from 250 eligible informal caregivers who were selected with regard to caregiver's characteristics, caregivers' level of burden and caregiver's coping strategies, respectively. Data gathered from the respondents were collated, coded and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 24.0) software and Predictive Analytical Software (PAS version 19.0). Chi-square was used to test for association between categorical variables at the 0.05 level of significance. The results are presented in tables and charts.; Results: The respondents consisted of more females 132 (62.86%) than males 78 (37.14%).  The majority of respondents (46.2%) were aged between 31-50 years with a mean age of 35.9 ± 18.1 years. The assessment of burden level revealed that 97 caregivers (46.19%) experienced severe burden, 37 (17.62%) experienced trivial or no burden, while 76 (36.2%) perceived moderate burden. The coping strategies used by caregivers to ease the level of burden experienced during caregiving included; acceptance, reprioritization, appreciation, family, positive self-view and empathy. Also, it was documented that there was a strong association between caregivers' level of burden and coping strategies ( P = 0.030). Findings also showed that age ( P = 0.000), sex ( P = 0.000), educational status ( P = 0.000), functional ability ( P = 0.000), duration of care ( P = 0.000), desire to continue caregiving ( P = 0.000) and type of cancer ( P = 0.000) were statistically significantly associated with caregivers' coping strategies.; Conclusion: There is great recognition of the role of informal caregivers in improving the health of their relatives and family members who are chronically ill. It was recommended that support groups in collaboration with health care providers should organize a symposium for informal caregivers on the intricacies of caregiving in chronically ill patients. This would create a platform for experience sharing, information dissemination and health care professional-caregiver interaction to enhance positive caregiving outcomes. 

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Baishideng Publishing Group
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World journal of clinical oncology
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