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.