Improving cancer caregiver support through a focused caregiver preparedness program
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Background: It is estimated that there are four million cancer caregivers (CG) in the United States. A majority (69.1%) of them experience various emotional burdens. Cancer CGs face various unmet emotional and psychological needs and are often expected to manage cancer patient symptoms for which they are largely unprepared. Since they are an integral part in cancer patients’ treatment planning and care, it is important to reduce CG emotional burden and improve their self-efficacy. The purpose of this quality initiative is to determine if a structured treatment specific program can reduce emotional burden, improve self-efficacy for patient care demands, and improve CG support group enrollment among CGs of patients receiving brain radiation treatments at CNS-RO clinic at MDACC. Design and methods: CGs were screened and enrolled followed by administration of a pre-intervention assessment of the CG burden and selfefficacy using Zarit Burden Interview and CG Self-Efficacy Scale respectively. During the intervention phase, the project director provided interactive teaching sessions regarding patient symptom management, coping strategies, and CG support group enrollment. After the intervention, each CG received an assessment of CG burden, self-efficacy, and CG group enrollment. Findings: CGs had significant reduction of burden (p = 0.0004), improvement of self-efficacy (p = 0.0152) and improvement in CG support group enrollment. While the sample size is considered small, the clinical results support using a standardized treatment-specific CG preparedness program to ensure best possible care for both the patient and the cancer CG.
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