Open communication with terminally ill cancer patients about illness and death: A comparison between spouses of ashkenazi and sephardi ethnic origins

Yaacov G. Bachner, Nili Yosef-Sela, Sara Carmel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Studies document that caregivers face severe difficulties in communicating with their loved ones about both illness and death. To date, a paucity of studies has examined caregiver-patient communication at the end of life within the context of ethnic origin. Objective: This study compares the level of open communication between caregivers from 2 ethnic groups and examines the contribution of different caregiver characteristics and situational variables to the explanation of open communication. Methods: A total of 77 spouse caregivers of terminally ill cancer patients (comprising 41 Jews of Sephardi origin and 36 Jews of Ashkenazi origin) participated in the study. The questionnaire included measures of caregiver communication, caregiver characteristics (ie, age, gender, education level, optimism, self-efficacy), and situational variables (ie, duration and intensity of care). Results: Spouses of Ashkenazi origin communicated more with their loved ones about illness and death compared with their Sephardi counterparts. Ethnic origin accounted for 16.6% of the explained variance, caregiver characteristics added 20.3%, and situation variables lent a modest contribution of 3.5%. Four variables emerged as significant predictors of caregivers' level of open communication: self-efficacy (β = .33, P < .05), gender (β = .32, P < .01), ethnic origin (β = .25, P <.05), and duration of care (β = .20, P < .05). Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the importance of ethnic origin to caregivers' open communication with terminal cancer patients about illness and death. Moreover, communication level with patients is mostly explained by the caregiver characteristics. Implications for practice: Caregiver characteristics should be considered by nurses when developing intervention programs for increasing caregivers' level of open communication with dying patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Nursing
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Caregiver
  • Communication
  • Ethnicity
  • Patient
  • Spouse
  • Terminal

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