Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 2437–2444 | Cite as

The self-care practices of family caregivers of persons with poor prognosis cancer: differences by varying levels of caregiver well-being and preparedness

  • J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom
  • Wendy Demark-Wahnefried
  • Richard A. Taylor
  • Gabrielle B. Rocque
  • Andres Azuero
  • Aras Acemgil
  • Michelle Y. Martin
  • Meka Astin
  • Deborah Ejem
  • Elizabeth Kvale
  • Karen Heaton
  • Maria Pisu
  • Edward E. Partridge
  • Marie A. Bakitas
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

Little is known about the impact of family caregiving for adults with poor prognosis cancer on caregivers’ own individual self-care practices. We explored differences in caregivers’ discrete self-care practices associated with varying levels of caregiver well-being, preparedness, and decision-making self-efficacy.

Methods

Cross-sectional survey within eight community-based southeastern U.S. cancer centers was conducted. Family caregivers of Medicare beneficiaries ≥65 years with pancreatic, lung, brain, ovarian, head and neck, hematologic, or stage IV cancer completed measures of individual self-care practices (health responsibility, physical activity, nutrition, spiritual growth, interpersonal relations, stress management, and sleep), well-being (anxiety, depression, and health-related quality of life [HRQoL]), preparedness, and decision-making self-efficacy.

Results

Caregivers (n = 294) averaged 66 years, were mostly female (72.8%), white (91.2%), Protestant (76.2%), retired (54.4%), and patients’ spouse/partner (60.2%). Approximately, half were rural-dwellers (46.9%) with incomes <$50,000 (53.8%). Most provided support 6–7 days/week (71%) for >1 year (68%). Nearly a quarter (23%) reported high depression and 34% reported borderline or high anxiety. Low engagement in all self-care practices was associated with worse caregiver anxiety, depression, and mental HRQoL (all p values < .05). Caregivers with lower health responsibility, spiritual growth, interpersonal relation, and stress management scores had lower preparedness and decision-making self-efficacy.

Conclusions

A significant proportion of caregivers simultaneously report low engagement in all forms of self-care practices, high depression and anxiety, and low HRQoL mental health scores. Caregiver well-being, preparedness, and decision-making self-efficacy might be optimized through interventions targeted at enhancing health responsibility, stress management, interpersonal relationships, and spiritual growth self-care practices.

Keywords

Caregivers Cancer Self-care Well-being 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom
    • 1
  • Wendy Demark-Wahnefried
    • 2
  • Richard A. Taylor
    • 1
  • Gabrielle B. Rocque
    • 3
  • Andres Azuero
    • 1
  • Aras Acemgil
    • 4
  • Michelle Y. Martin
    • 5
  • Meka Astin
    • 1
  • Deborah Ejem
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Kvale
    • 6
  • Karen Heaton
    • 1
  • Maria Pisu
    • 4
  • Edward E. Partridge
    • 3
  • Marie A. Bakitas
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)BirminghamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Nutrition SciencesUABBirminghamUSA
  3. 3.UAB Comprehensive Cancer CenterBirminghamUSA
  4. 4.Department of Preventive MedicineUABBirminghamUSA
  5. 5.Department of Preventive MedicineUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  6. 6.Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Palliative CareUAB Center for Palliative and Supportive CareBirminghamUSA

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