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The Caregiving Experience in a Racially Diverse Sample of Cancer Family Caregivers

Siefert, Mary Lou DNSc, AOCN; Williams, Anna-leila PhD(c), MPH, PA-C; Dowd, Michael F. PhD; Chappel-Aiken, Lolita EdD, RN; McCorkle, Ruth PhD, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000305760.04357.96

The literature supports a variety of predictor variables to account for the psychological and stress burden experienced by cancer family caregivers. Missing among the predictor variables are the differences by or influence of race/ethnicity. The purpose of this study was to describe the sample, explore differences in outcomes by patient and family caregiver characteristics, and determine if any of the patient and family characteristics, including race/ethnicity, predicted outcomes. Cross-sectional surveys were used to determine sociodemographics, psychological and physical health, and burdens of caregiving among 54 caregivers. The analysis consisted of descriptive methods, including frequencies and t tests, and regression modeling. The sample was 35% African American or Hispanic. African American and Hispanic caregivers were younger than white caregivers and more often women, were rarely the spouse of the patient, and frequently had other dependents, including children and older parents. African American and Hispanic caregivers reported lower incomes and more burden related to finances and employment than did white caregivers. When controlling for sociodemographic factors, there was no difference by race/ethnicity on the outcome measures. The experience of caregiving may supersede race/ethnicity and may be its own cultural entity. Areas of concern include the interrelationship between socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity, the absence of cultural frameworks to direct caregiver research, and the question of cultural relevance of measurement tools.

Authors' Affiliations: William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (Dr Siefert); Yale University School of Nursing, New Haven, Connecticut (Ms Williams, Drs Dowd, and McCorkle); and Howard University School of Nursing, Washington, DC (Dr Chappel-Aiken).

Funding source: NIH-1P20NR08349. Principal Investigator M. Funk, PhD at Yale University School of Nursing.

Corresponding author: Mary Lou Siefert, DNSc, AOCN, William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 (

Accepted for publication January 7, 2008.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.