Aims: 1) Review of the literature concerning caregivers of older cancer patients 2) Compare coping and distress levels between spousal caregivers of older cancer patients and survivors to a control group. 3) Evaluate the effect of age and gender on the raltions between coping and distress among caregivers of older cancer patients.
Methods: Participants included a sample of 125 partners (62 men and 63 women) who are primary caregivers of cancer patients aged 60+ and a matched control group of 65 partners (31 men and 34 women) of healthy people aged 60+ who were never diagnosed with cancer or any other terminal illness. Measures included the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and the Brief Cope.
Results: Results indicate that among the research group and among older caregivers within the research group, there were higher levels of psychological distress and physical problems. The only coping strategy used more frequently by caregivers was acceptance; avoidant coping strategies were found to be highly correlated with distress; and acceptance was negatively correlated to distress only among the men caregivers, where social and instrumental support were negatively correlated to psychological distress among the women in the research group.
Conclusion: The results show paths for developing intervention strategies for caregivers of older cancer patients. For example, Physicians caring for older patients should consider gender differences while communicating with and transmitting information to male and female caregivers. Women in contrast to men may be more readily encouraged to rely on the variety of options they already have like relying on family, social and religious support.
"This abstract could form part of Symposium proposal: “In sickness and in health”: Coping and needs of spouses and children caring for adult and older cancer patients, clinical observations and research data. Coordinator: Gil Goldzweig