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Depressive Symptoms, Grief, and Complicated Grief Among Family Caregivers of Patients With Advanced Cancer Three Months Into Bereavement

Lorraine F. Holtslander
Susan C. McMillan
ONF 2011, 38(1), 60-65 DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.60-65

Purpose/Objectives: To describe depressive symptoms, grief, and complicated grief for bereaved family caregivers of patients who died from cancer-related causes and to explore relationships among these variables.

Design: A nonexperimental, secondary analysis of cross-sectional descriptive data from a longitudinal intervention study evaluating the effect of providing feedback from standardized assessment tools.

Setting: Two large, private, not-for-profit hospices in Florida.

Sample: Convenience sample of 280 family caregivers, bereaved three months.

Methods: Secondary analysis of self-report, survey data three months following death.

Main Research Variables: Depressive symptoms, grief, and complicated grief.

Findings: Three months after the loss of a loved one, 34% of the caregivers had clinically meaningful scores for depressive symptoms. A significant number of bereaved caregivers were experiencing grief and depression.

Conclusions: Bereaved caregivers were experiencing significant levels of depressive symptoms and complicated grief. Caregivers with higher levels of grief had more depressive symptoms.

Implications for Nursing: Tools are available to identify bereaved caregivers most in need of intervention.

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