PURPOSE: Family caregivers play a key role in cancer care and are of significant support in lung cancer. This National Cancer Institute funded Program Project (P01) addresses palliative care, quality of life (QOL), and self care for family caregivers in lung cancer. The purpose of this study is to test usual care versus a family caregiver interdisciplinary intervention encompassing a QOL education intervention.
METHODS: Project 3 of this Program focuses on family caregivers in lung cancer, a group with significant QOL concerns. The study uses a two group, prospective tandem enrollment comparing usual care to a structured palliative care intervention. Family caregivers are followed for 6 months in late stage disease and 12 months in early stage lung cancer. Outcome measures include the Family Caregiver QOL tool, Caregiver Burden tool, Self Care Assessment, Psychological Distress and Caregiver Preparation measures. A Geriatric Core supports this Project to advise on caregiver concerns for the geriatric patient such as burden and caregiving skill acquisition as well as to evaluate the needs of the caregiver.
RESULTS: Family caregivers (N=161) were mean age of 57 years, 60% female, 70% spouses/partners, and 40% minority subjects. Sixty percent had chronic illnesses of their own. Key caregiver QOL concerns (0= worst to 10 = best outcomes) included distress of the initial diagnosis (x=1.3), family distress (x=2.89) fear of metastasis (x =3.03) or recurrence (x =3.16) for the patient, living with uncertainty (x =3.68) and distress from the patient’s treatment. Key areas of caregiver burden and stress included time demands, overall stress, needing help navigating health services, and accessing community resources and health information.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings demonstrate gaps in supporting family caregivers in lung cancer.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The next phase of this Program Project tests a comprehensive education intervention for family caregivers and a self care plan for each caregiver. Elements include preparing caregivers in managing symptoms in lung cancer, supporting patients physical, psychological and social concerns and addressing spiritual and end of life.
DISCLOSURE: The following authors have nothing to disclose: Betty Ferrell, Marcia Grant, Marianna Koczywas, Arti Hurria, Matthew Loscalzo, Gloria Juarez, Shirley Otis-Green, Gwen Uman, Tami Borneman
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