The Caregiving Journey for Family Members of Relatives With Cancer

Sarah Northfield

Monica Nebauer

coping, family caregivers
CJON 2010, 14(5), 567-577. DOI: 10.1188/10.CJON.567-577

Family caregivers need adequate support from healthcare professionals to complete the demands associated with caregiving with minimal impact on their own health and well-being. An optimal balance of provision of care between family and support services has not been achieved; therefore, this literature review investigates how family caregivers endure and cope with the challenges of caring for an adult relative with cancer. This review considered the characteristics of caregivers and their functioning, the external and internal supports that help them cope, the ongoing challenges as they journey along the caregiving trajectory, the personal costs of caregiving, and how caregivers cope with supporting their family members through to the end of their journeys. The literature provides an abundance of research on the numerous challenges encountered by families living with cancer; however, little research has been conducted on the coping strategies used by family caregivers at specific stages along the illness trajectory that either optimize or hinder personal recovery. Even less information is available on interventions nurses can introduce to ease the caregiving burden. Improving nurses' understanding of the stressors and unmet needs associated with caregiving is fundamental to the development of effective family-focused clinical interventions.

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