Factors related to depressive symptoms among Chinese caregivers of cancer patients

Xiaoshi Yang, Lie Wang, Jian He, Cuixia Ge, Ying Chang, Jialang Fu, Jiansi Wei, Emon Pattaramongkolar, Yiming Zhou
Psycho-oncology 2012, 21 (10): 1063-70

OBJECTIVE: Caregivers, assuming the responsibilities of caring for patients, are involved in significant emotional and physical caring which may lead to depressive symptoms. However, few studies are available pertaining to related factors of depressive symptoms among cancer caregivers in China. This study aims to evaluate the prevalence of depressive symptoms and to explore its predictive factors.

METHODS: A face-to-face interview was conducted with 312 cancer caregivers in Shenyang. Depressive symptoms were assessed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. Hierarchical multivariate regression analysis was used to explore the factors related to depressive symptoms. In the hierarchical regression, caregiver demographic characteristics were entered in the first step, patients' characteristics were entered in the second step, objective caregiving loads were entered in the third step, subjective caregiving burden was entered in the fourth step, and Sense of Coherence (SOC) was entered in the last step.

RESULTS: The prevalence of caregivers' depressive symptoms was 63.5%. Regression analyses showed that demographic characteristics of caregivers and subjective caregiving burden explained most of the total variance, accounting for 28.5% and 14.6%, respectively. Subjective caregiving burden was positively associated with depressive symptoms, whereas SOC was negatively associated with depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Chinese caregivers of cancer patients experienced higher levels of depressive symptoms. Demographic characteristics of caregivers and subjective caregiving burden were the most significant predictors of depressive symptoms, whereas SOC could attenuate the levels of depressive symptoms. Caregiving burden should be decreased, and SOC is highly recommended to manage caregiving tasks in order to alleviate depressive symptoms.

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