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Effects of Caregiving Demand, Mutuality, and Preparedness on Family Caregiver Outcomes During Cancer Treatment

Karen L. Schumacher
Barbara J. Stewart
Patricia G. Archbold
Mildred Caparro
Faith Mutale
Sangeeta Agrawal
ONF 2008, 35(1), 49-56 DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.49-56

Purpose/Objectives: To test a model of family caregiving derived from the interactionist approach to role theory that hypothesized that three caregiving role implementation variables (caregiving demand, mutuality between caregivers and patients, and preparedness for caregiving) would predict multiple caregiving-specific and generic outcomes with different patterns of association across outcomes.

Design: Descriptive, correlational.

Setting: Surgical, radiation, and medical oncology settings.

Sample: 87 family caregivers of adults receiving treatment for solid tumors or lymphoma.

Methods: Caregivers completed the Demand and Difficulty subscales of the Caregiving Burden Scale; the Mutuality, Preparedness, and Global Strain scales of the Family Care Inventory; and the 30-item short form of the Profile of Mood States. Data were analyzed with simultaneous multiple regression.

Main Research Variables: Caregiving demand, mutuality, preparedness, caregiving difficulty, global caregiver strain, tension, depression, anger, fatigue, vigor, confusion, and total mood disturbance.

Findings: The model explained statistically significant proportions of variance in each outcome, with different patterns of association across outcomes. Demand was associated most strongly with caregiving difficulty and global strain. Mutuality was associated most strongly with caregiver anger. Unexpectedly, preparedness was associated more strongly with mood disturbance outcomes than with the caregivingspecific variables of difficulty and strain.

Conclusions: Further research should explore models that address implementation of the caregiving role to better elucidate how family caregivers learn and carry out the important role.

Implications for Nursing: Clinical assessment should include caregiving demand, the quality of the relationship between caregiver and patient, and preparedness for caregiving. Interventions could be tailored to meet caregiver needs in each area.

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