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Helping Families of Patients With Cancer

Laurel L. Northouse
ONF 2005, 32(4), 743-750 DOI: 10.1188/05.ONF.743-750

Purpose/Objectives: To discuss the impact of cancer on families of patients with cancer.

Data Sources: National reports on caregiving and research articles related to cancer and families.

Data Synthesis: Family caregivers are the bedrock of chronic care in the United States. They provide an enormous amount of unpaid care that is often invisible. Cancer can affect the emotional, social, physical, and spiritual well-being of family members.

Conclusions: Family intervention research can have a positive effect on patient and family caregiver outcomes. More intervention research with families is needed that is theoretically based, uses randomized clinical trial designs, and uses instruments that are sensitive to intervention effects.

Implications for Nursing: Although family intervention research is limited, descriptive and exploratory research has identified protective factors and risk factors that need to be addressed in clinical practice.

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