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The Challenges, Emotions, Coping, and Gains of Family Caregivers Caring for Patients With Advanced Cancer in Singapore

A Qualitative Study

Leow, Mabel Q. H. PhD; Chan, Sally W. C. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000354

Background: Caring for a family member with advanced cancer at home is demanding as the ill family member is likely to have complex physical and emotional needs. There is a paucity of studies on the experience of home family caregivers of people with advanced cancer in the Asian region.

Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the experiences of family caregivers caring for a person with advanced cancer at home in Singapore.

Methods: This was a qualitative study; data were collected by semistructured interviews and analyzed using content analysis. A purposive sample of 19 family caregivers who were taking care of a family member with advanced cancer were recruited from home hospice care services in Singapore.

Results: Most of the caregivers were female (n = 14), ranging in age from 21 to 64 years (mean, 46.4 [SD, 10.5] years). Four themes were generated from the data: (1) caregiving challenges, (2) negative emotions, (3) ways of coping, and (4) positive gains of caregiving.

Conclusions: This study generated insights into the challenges, emotions, and coping of Asian family caregivers caring for patients with advanced cancer. Such understanding could help in developing appropriate intervention for caregivers to reduce their burden and stress.

Implications for Practice: Caregivers require knowledge on resolving family conflicts and about communicating and enhancing closeness with the ill family member. Support from healthcare professionals is essential even if caregivers have support from family members and friends; nurses can make conscious efforts to show concern for caregivers as well as for patients.

Author Affiliations: Biomechanics Laboratory, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore (Dr Leow); and School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia (Prof Chan).

This study was funded by the Singapore Cancer Society grant (WBS:R-545-000-040-592).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Mabel Q. H. Leow, PhD, Research Scientist, Biomechanics Laboratory, Singapore General Hospital, Academia, 20 College Road, Level 1, Singapore 169856 (

Accepted for publication December 9, 2015.

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