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Factors Influencing Family Caregivers' Ability to Cope With Providing End-of-Life Cancer Care at Home

Stajduhar, Kelli I. PhD, RN; Martin, Wanda Leigh MN, RN; Barwich, Doris MD; Fyles, Gillian MD

doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000305686.36637.b5

Dying at home is a goal promoted by many healthcare providers and governments as a way to enhance the dying experience for cancer patients and their family members. A key element to realizing this goal is the availability of a family member who is willing to provide care at home. Little research has been conducted on the factors that influence family caregivers' ability to cope with providing end-of-life cancer care at home. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe factors influencing family caregivers' ability to cope with providing such care. An interpretive descriptive research design guided this study. Semistructured interviews with 29 active family caregivers were conducted and thematically analyzed. Our findings suggest 5 factors that influenced the caregivers' ability to cope: (1) the caregiver's approach to life, (2) the patient's illness experience, (3) the patient's recognition of the caregivers' contribution to his or her care, (4) the quality of the relationship between the caregiver and the dying person, and (5) the caregiver's sense of security. Findings provide important information to assist in informing health services and policies directed at enhancing family caregivers' coping abilities.

Authors' Affiliations: School of Nursing and Centre on Aging, University of Victoria, Victoria (Dr Stajduhar); Centre on Aging, University of Victoria, Victoria (Ms Martin); Fraser Health Authority, Surrey (Dr Barwich); and Centre for the Southern Interior, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada (Dr Fyles).

This research is supported by the Canadian Cancer Society through a grant administered by the National Cancer Institute of Canada. Dr Stajduhar is supported by a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Corresponding author: Kelli I. Stajduhar, PhD, RN, School of Nursing and Centre on Aging, University of Victoria, Sedgewick Building, Room A104, 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8P 5C2 (

Accepted for publication June 13, 2007.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.