Background: Caregivers of oral cavity cancer patients report stress during caregiving time.
Objective: This study aimed to examine changes in social support and predictors in caregivers of oral cavity cancer patients over the 3 months after patients’ first discharge.
Methods: This was a prospective longitudinal study. Caregivers of oral cavity cancer patients with planned discharge were recruited from inpatient wards and the outpatient department at a major medical center in Taiwan. Caregivers’ needs and satisfaction with available social support were assessed at 4 time points: before discharge and at 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months after the first discharge. The generalized estimating equation was used to determine predictive factors of social support.
Results: Caregivers had mild-to- moderate levels of needs and were satisfied with available social support during the first 3 months after discharge. The peak for both overall and individual needs of social support was before discharge. Caregivers overall and individual satisfaction with social support peaked at 3 months after discharge. Spouse caregivers had greater overall needs for social support. Caregivers with longer caregiving time were associated with dissatisfaction during the first 3 months after discharge.
Conclusions: Caregivers of oral cavity cancer patients had unmet needs of social support, especially wife caregivers.
Implications for Practice: A comprehensive assessment of caregiver needs and satisfaction with available social support is necessary to improve caregiving for oral cavity cancer patients and address the concerns of caregivers in a timely manner.
Author Affiliations: Department of Nursing, Chang Gung Medical Foundation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou (Dr Chen and Mss Hung, Tsai, Chen, and Liu); Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology (Dr Chen); Division of Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University (Dr Liao); and Department of Head and Neck Oncology Group, Chang Gung Medical Foundation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou (Drs Chen and Liao), Taoyuan, Taiwan.
This study was supported by Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (CMRPG380531) in Taiwan.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Correspondence: Shu-Ching Chen, PhD, RN, Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, 261 Wen-Hua 1st Rd, Kweishan, Taoyuan 333, Taiwan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Accepted for publication July 28, 2012.