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When a Family Member Has a Malignant Brain Tumor: The Caregiver Perspective

Schmer, Carol; Ward‐Smith, Peggy; Latham, Sue; Salacz, Michael

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: April 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 2 - p 78–84
Then & Now

The incidence of primary malignant brain tumors has remained stable over the past 10 years, with median survival reported as 12 months. Once the patient has been diagnosed, providing care for him or her is primarily performed by family members. Although previous research has documented the stress, depression, anxiety, and burden associated with caregiving, when these conditions occur is not known. The purpose of this study was to explore the caregiver perspective of providing care while the patient was receiving chemotherapy as initial treatment for the disease. Using phenomenological techniques, data were obtained from semistructured interviews with family caregivers and self‐disclosed demographic data. Each interview occurred while the patient was receiving treatment; all patients were within 6 months of initial diagnosis. Interview data were analyzed using Colaizzi's method, which allowed themes universal to the participants to be uncovered. Interview data from 10 participants provided saturation and identified three themes: (a) the diagnosis of a brain tumor is a shock; (b) immediate family role changes occur; and (c) there are psychosocial effects for the caregiver, his or her family, and the person with the brain tumor.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Carol Schmer, BSN RN, at carol.schmer@umkc.edu. She is a doctoral candidate in the School of Nursing at the University of Missouri‐Kansas City, Kansas City, MO.

Peggy Ward‐Smith, PhD RN, is an associate professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Missouri‐Kansas City, Kansas City, MO.

Sue Latham, RN, is the director of research and compliance at the St. Luke's Cancer Institute, Kansas City, MO.

Michael Salacz, MD, is a neuro‐oncologist at the St. Luke's Cancer Institute, Kansas City, MO.

© 2008 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses