Open communication between caregivers and terminally ill cancer patients: The role of caregivers' characteristics and situational variables

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Abstract

This study assesses caregivers' perceived level of open communication about illness and death with their terminally ill relatives and examines the contribution of caregivers' characteristics and situational variables to the explanation of open communication. A total of 236 primary caregivers of terminal cancer patients participated in the study. Level of open communication was measured by 6 items clustered into 1 factor. Caregivers' characteristics were composed of demographic variables, personality traits, and negative emotional reactions to caregiving. The situational variables included the duration and intensity of caregiving, and perceived functioning and suffering of the patient. Caregivers experienced substantial difficulties in communicating with patients about illness and death. Level of open communication was explained by caregivers' emotional reactions (emotional exhaustion, depression) and self-efficacy, as well as by the duration of caregiving. Intervention programs for health professionals need to focus on prevention, identification, and treatment of caregivers at risk for negative reactions to caregiving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-531
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Communication
Volume24
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2009

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