Charles S. Carver

Kim, Y., Carver, C. S., Schulz, R., Lucette, A., & Cannady, R. S. (2013). Finding benefit in bereavement among family cancer caregivers. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 16, 1040-1047. DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2013.0049

Background and Objective: Even though cancer is the second most common cause of death, little is known about the extent to which family caregivers find meaning and benefit in the loss and its associated demographic characteristics and caregiving experiences. This study addressed this gap in our knowledge.

Design and Subjects: Family caregivers participated in a nationwide survey for cancer caregivers 2 years after the relative's diagnosis (T1). Of those, 121 were identified as bereaved by 5 years post-diagnosis (T2) and provided valid data for the study variables. Participants were primarily middle-aged, spouse of the deceased, and bereaved for an average of 2.9 years. Measurements: Perceived caregiving stress, caregiver esteem, and patient's cancer severity as indicators of initial caregiving stressors and caregivers' demographics were measured at T1. Social support and time since bereavement as indicators of current resources and benefit finding in bereavement as an outcome were measured at T2.

Results: Reports of personal growth from bereavement emerged in multiple domains, although some caregivers were less likely to find benefit: non-spousal caregivers who had greater caregiving stress and spousal caregivers with lack of social support.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that bereavement programs designed to help bereaved caregivers find meaning in the loss should be personalized reflecting individual differences in caregiving stress and caregiver esteem. Such programs should also be tailored differently for spousal vs non-spousal caregivers.

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