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Exploring Spirituality in Family Caregivers of Patients With Primary Malignant Brain Tumors Across the Disease Trajectory

Alyssa G. Newberry
Chien-Wen Jean Choi
Heidi S. Donovan
Richard Schulz
Catherine Bender
Barbara Given
Paula Sherwood
ONF 2013, 40(3), E119-E125 DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.E119-E125

Purpose/Objectives: To determine whether the perceived level of spirituality in family caregivers of patients with primary malignant brain tumors (PMBTs) changes across the disease trajectory.

Design: Ongoing descriptive, longitudinal study.

Setting: Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Sample: 50 family caregivers of patients with PMBT.

Methods: Caregivers and care recipients were recruited at time of diagnosis. Participants were interviewed at two subsequent time points, four and eight months following diagnosis.

Main Research Variables: Care recipients' symptoms, neuropsychologic status, and physical function, as well as caregiver social support.

Findings: Results showed no significant difference in spirituality scores reported at baseline and eight months (p = 0.8), suggesting that spirituality may be a stable trait across the disease trajectory.

Conclusions: Spirituality remains relatively stable along the course of the disease trajectory. Reports of caregiver depressive symptoms and anxiety were lower when paired with higher reports of spirituality.

Implications for Nursing: Clinicians can better identify caregivers at risk for negative outcomes by identifying those who report lower levels of spirituality. Future interventions should focus on the development and implementation of interventions that provide protective buffers such as increased social support.

Knowledge Translation: Spirituality is a relatively stable trait. High levels of spirituality can serve as a protective buffer from negative mental health outcomes. Caregivers with low levels of spirituality may be at risk for greater levels of burden, anxiety, and stress.

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