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Mosher CE, Adams RN, Helft PR, O'Neil BH, Shahda S, Rattray NA, Champion VL. Family caregiving challenges in advanced colorectal cancer: patient and caregiver perspectives. Supportive Care in Cancer : Official Journal of The Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer. 2016 May 1; 24(5):2017-24.
PURPOSE: Family caregivers of advanced colorectal cancer patients may be at increased risk for psychological distress. Yet their key challenges in coping with the patient's illness are not well understood. Soliciting both patient and caregiver perspectives on these challenges would broaden our understanding of the caregiving experience. Thus, the purpose of this research was to identify caregivers' key challenges in coping with their family member's advanced colorectal cancer from the perspective of patients and caregivers. METHODS: Individual, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 23 advanced colorectal cancer patients and 23 primary family caregivers. Interview data were analyzed via thematic analysis. RESULTS: In nearly all cases, patient and caregiver reports of the caregiver's key challenge were discrepant. Across patient and caregiver reports, caregivers' key challenges included processing emotions surrounding the patient's initial diagnosis or recurrence and addressing the patient's practical and emotional needs. Other challenges included coping with continual uncertainty regarding the patient's potential functional decline and prognosis and observing the patient suffer from various physical symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that eliciting the perspectives of both patients and caregivers regarding caregivers' challenges provides a more comprehensive understanding of their experience. Results also point to the need to assist caregivers with the emotional and practical aspects of caregiving.