JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, N.I.H., EXTRAMURAL
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Caregiving experiences predict changes in spiritual well-being among family caregivers of cancer patients.

Psycho-oncology 2014 October
OBJECTIVE: Although enhanced spiritual well-being has been linked to positive mental health outcomes among family caregivers of cancer patients, little is known regarding predictors of spiritual well-being in this population. The current study aimed to examine caregiving experiences as predictors of change in family caregivers' spiritual well-being during the initial months following the patient's cancer diagnosis.

METHODS: Seventy family caregivers of newly diagnosed cancer patients (74% female, mean age = 59 years) participated in this longitudinal survey. Caregivers completed baseline questionnaires shortly before staying with the patient at an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. Baseline questionnaires assessed caregiving experiences (i.e., self-esteem related to caregiving, family support for providing care, impact of caregiving on finances, and impact of caregiving on one's schedule). In addition, caregivers' spiritual well-being (i.e., meaning in life, peace, and faith) was assessed at baseline and 4-month follow-up.

RESULTS: In univariate analyses, all caregiving experiences studied were associated with one or more aspects of spiritual well-being at 4-month follow-up. However, in the multivariate analysis, the only caregiving experience associated with aspects of spiritual well-being at 4-month follow-up was caregivers' perceptions of family support. Specifically, lack of family support was associated with lower levels of meaning and peace.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings point to the importance of family support in facilitating the search for meaning and peace shortly after a loved one's cancer diagnosis and suggest that interventions targeting caregivers' support system may enhance their spiritual well-being.

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