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Telephone Support for Caregivers of Patients with Cancer

Citation Walsh, S., M., & Schmidt, L. A. (2003). Telephone support for caregivers of patients with cancer. Cancer Nursing, 26(6), 448-453.

Design Study

Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of conducting a brief telephone intervention, Tele-Care II, for caregivers of hospice patients.

Participants The participants were N = 14 caregivers of hospice patients (5 were able to complete the study).

Outcome / Dependent Variables The variables of this study were caregiver burden as measured by the Caregiver Burden Scale, depression as measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression instrument, social support as measured by the Inventory of Social Support, and a multidimensional scale (Hogan Grief Reactions Checklist-End of Life) that measures panic behavior, blame and anger, detachment, disorganization, and despair.

Procedure The intervention was a 4-week modification of a longer 10-week intervention conducted for caregivers of patients with newly diagnosed cancer before the patients were eligible for hospice care. During each telephone session of the Tele-Care II intervention, caregivers and the nurse interventionist used a Tele-Care II workbook, which included weekly outlines of topics and contained information related to end-of-life (EOL) and palliative care. The workbook (S. Walsh, M. Rubert, unpublished data, 2000) had been conceptualized from an extensive review of the literature and recommendations from the National Hospice Organization Guide to Hospice Care 10 and the Institute of Medicine report, Approaching Death: Committee on Care at the End of Life.

Outcomes Those completing the intervention experienced decreased depression, despair, and disorganization although the patient’s condition became more serious. Late enrollment in hospice continues to be problematic for patients, family caregivers, and hospice staff because it allows little time for completion of interventions with family caregivers before the patient’s death.

Author Walsh, S., M., & Schmidt, L. A