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Support Care Cancer. 2016 Aug;24(8):3437-45. doi: 10.1007/s00520-016-3160-z. Epub 2016 Mar 19.

Vulnerable characteristics and interest in wellness programs among head and neck cancer caregivers.

Author information

1
Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy and Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC, 27157, USA. cnightin@wakehealth.edu.
2
Department of Public Health Sciences and Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, 68 President Street MSC 955, Charleston, SC, 29425, USA.
3
Department of Biostatistical Sciences and Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC, 27157, USA.
4
Department of Nutrition Sciences, College of Nursing and Health, Drexel University, 1601 Cherry Street, MS 31030, Philadelphia, PA, 19102, USA.
5
Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy and Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC, 27157, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Head and neck cancer (HNC) caregivers have poorer psychological health compared to patients and the general population but have not yet been targeted for wellness programs to reduce adverse psychosocial or physical health outcomes. To inform development of such programs, we identified potential vulnerabilities to poor outcomes and examined wellness program preferences among HNC caregivers. We also examined whether interest in wellness programs varied by potential vulnerabilities among HNC caregivers.

METHODS:

Surveys were administered to caregivers (n = 33) of HNC patients undergoing major surgery. Sociodemographic factors, caregiving characteristics, psychosocial functioning, and health behavior data were collected. Fisher's exact tests and t tests were used to examine characteristics associated with interest in the different types of wellness programs.

RESULTS:

Many caregivers reported a heavy caregiving load (88 % live with patient and 73 % provide daily care), a smoking history (42 %), and compromised psychosocial functioning (45 % with depressive symptoms and 33 % with anxiety above population norms). Most caregivers were interested in wellness programs focused on diet/exercise (71.9 %); cancer education (66.7 %); stress reduction (63.6 %); and finances, caregiving, and well-being (57.6 %). Caregivers endorsed highest interest in programs offered during the patient's medical treatment (63.6 %), and mail was the preferred program format (50.0 %). Those with more depressive symptoms reported more interest in programs focused on cancer education (p = 0.03); stress reduction (p = 0.05); and educational classes on finances, caregiving, and well-being (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

Wellness programs offering a menu of options should be developed for HNC caregivers.

KEYWORDS:

Cancer; Caregivers; Head and neck cancer; Mental health; Oncology; Wellness programs

PMID:
26992407
PMCID:
PMC4919231
DOI:
10.1007/s00520-016-3160-z
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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