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Distress and Quality of Life Concerns of Family Caregivers of Patients Undergoing Palliative Surgery

Juarez, Gloria PhD, RN; Ferrell, Betty PhD, RN; Uman, Gwen PhD, RN; Podnos, Yale MD; Wagman, Lawrence D. MD

doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000305682.13766.c2

There has been limited research in the field of palliative care and even far less focus on the area of palliative surgery. Although patient needs are paramount, family caregivers require information and support at the time surrounding surgery for advanced disease. The aim of this prospective cohort study of family caregivers of patients with advanced malignancies was to measure the impact of palliative surgery on dimensions of quality of life (QOL) for these family members. Family caregivers completed assessment tools preoperatively and at approximately 3 weeks and 2 and 3 months postoperatively. Parameters of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual QOL were measured on a scale of 0 (poor) to 10 (good) using the City of Hope QOL-Family instrument. Caregivers recorded their general distress on the Distress Thermometer using a scale of 0 (none) to 10 (severe). Analysis of the data revealed that family caregivers had disruptions similar to patients in physical, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of QOL. Findings suggest that caregivers should be assessed for distress and QOL concerns both before and after surgery for patients with advanced malignancies. Although caregiver concerns cannot always be eradicated, resources and interventions to support family caregivers are vital to improving QOL.

Autors' Affiliation: Department of Nursing Research and Education, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, (Drs Juarez, Ferrell, Podnos, and Wagman); Vital Research, Los Angeles, (Dr Uman) California.

This study was funded by a research grant from the American Cancer Society.

Corresponding author: Gloria Juarez, PhD, RN, Department of Nursing Research and Education, City of Hope National Medical Center, 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010 (

Accepted for publication July 12, 2007.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.