Caregivers' Descriptions of Sleep Changes and Depressive Symptoms
Purpose/Objectives: To describe caregiver sleep and depression using caregiver narratives. To compare qualitative descriptions with quantitative scores.
Design: Descriptive, one-time, open-ended interview followed by structured sleep and depression questions.
Setting: Interview conducted in person or via telephone at caregiver's preference.
Sample: 47 caregivers of patients with advanced stage cancer. Caregivers had a mean age of 54 years, and most were female (81%), Caucasian (82%), and spouses (61%). They provided care for a mean of 24 months. Patients' diagnoses were lung cancer (36%), colorectal cancer (13%), or recurrences (51%).
Methods: Two cancer care sites in southern California provided participants. After consent, the researcher conducted interviews. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) instruments were administered following interviews.
Main Research Variables: Sleep pattern changes and depression levels over time as defined by caregivers.
Findings: Caregivers described severe fluctuations in sleep patterns overtime and how these changes affected caregiver depressive symptoms. PSQI and CES-D scores matched narrative comments.
Conclusions: Caregivers' narratives suggest they suffer progressive sleep deprivation that affects their emotions and ability to continue as caregivers.
Implications for Nursing: Nurses must recognize the severe sleep problems experienced by caregivers and respond with interventions to increase sleep quality and decrease depression.