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19-07-2018 | Caregiving | Article

The experiences of older caregivers of cancer patients following hospital discharge

Supportive Care in Cancer

Authors: Abby J. Schwartz, Richard F. Riedel, Thomas W. LeBlanc, Devi Desai, Carol Jenkins, Ellen Mahoney, Janice Humphreys, Cristina C. Hendrix

Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg



This study addressed the experiences of older caregivers of cancer patients in the 2 weeks following a hospital discharge. It sought to understand the challenges they face in providing supportive care to patients at home.


Qualitative descriptive interviews with a narrative approach were conducted with each caregiver at 1 and 2 weeks following the patient’s discharge from the hospital. A thematic analysis approach was used to identify the themes that emerged from the caregiver interviews.


Caregivers were primarily Caucasian (77%), were mostly 68 years of age or older (62%), and were primarily caring for a spouse (69%). Three key themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: caregiver and patient wellness are connected, caregivers’ struggle with control issues, and challenges in communication with health professionals.


These findings highlight psychosocial changes that caregivers experience over the 2-week time period following hospital discharge. Implications include the need to identify interventions to better prepare caregivers for the post-discharge period.

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