It is possible that interventions with multiple components are more effective in assisting caregivers. For example, the Family Caregiver Cancer Education Program targets education about symptom management along with skill-building in communication, managing roles and relationships, managing finances, and maintaining self-care. Caregivers' sense of confidence and being well informed increased after participation in the program, while perceptions of their own health improved over time.
The Family Meeting
Refer to the Convening a Family Meeting section in the Physicians Interacting With Family Caregivers section of this summary for more information.
Rehabilitation for the Caregiver
Although the subject of caregiver burden is well represented in the literature, one comprehensive review found a strikingly limited number of studies addressing interventions for caregiver strain and burden in oncology. The extensive literature search yielded only 20 intervention studies, with only 8 studies that specifically cited outcome measures for strain and burden. Two systematic reviews [11,24] exclusively examined studies of caregivers in oncology or palliative care populations. However, most study designs were qualitative, descriptive, cross-sectional, or nonexperimental designs; therefore, many of the proposed interventions for caregivers (e.g., competence, support, respite, or adult day care) are those whose effectiveness cannot be established until further evidence is obtained with randomized clinical trials.
Despite the fact that some of the interventions studied had positive psychosocial outcomes, the studies could not document a reduction in caregiver burden. Therefore, those particular strategies require further testing before their effectiveness in reducing caregiver burden can be established.
Few intervention studies have demonstrated efficacy in improving the quality of life of caregivers from the study entry point. Instead, most intervention studies have demonstrated efficacy in improving knowledge of and skills in caregiving. For example, interventions designed to educate caregivers about how to seek out medical information, identify psychosocial resources, or manage symptoms have helped improve caregivers' knowledge, confidence, and mood. Similarly, interventions designed to help caregivers develop problem-solving skills (e.g., coping with cancer) have demonstrated effectiveness in increasing caregiver self-efficacy in managing stress and in reducing psychological distress.
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