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The psychological and physical health of hospice caregivers

Publication year
Chentsova-Dutton, Y.; Shuchter, S.; Hutchin, S.; Strause, L.; Burns, K.; Zisook, S.

This study explores the psychological distress of caring for a dying family member and examines the differences in depression, anxiety, health, social and occupational functioning, and social support among hospice caregivers and community controls. It compares psychological functioning of spousal and adult child hospice caregivers. Caregivers of terminally ill hospice patients were assessed prior to death as a part of a longitudinal bereavement study. Caregivers reported experiencing higher levels of depression, anxiety, anger, and health problems than controls. Hospice caregiving was associated with deterioration in physical health and in social and occupational functioning. The comparisons between adult children and spouse caregivers revealed that levels of psychological and physical morbidity were very similar for the two generations of caregivers. An awareness of distress symptoms among hospice caregivers could lead to timely proactive clinical intervention that may prevent bereavement complications.

Research abstracts