Sleep Pattern and Predictors of Sleep Disturbance Among Family Caregivers of Terminal Ill Patients With Cancer in Taiwan: A Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

Background:

Sleep disturbance commonly has a negative impact on the well-being of family caregivers (FCs) of terminally ill patients with cancer. The effect of sleep disturbance on FCs has not been explored through long-term follow-up studies in Taiwan.

Objective:

The purposes of this study were to (1) identify the trajectory of sleep quality of FCs of terminally ill patients with cancer in Taiwan and (2) examine the determinants of sleep disturbance through a longitudinal follow-up until patient death.

Methods:

A prospective, longitudinal study was conducted among 95 FCs of terminally ill patients with cancer. The FCs’ sleep quality was measured subjectively by using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and objectively by wearing a wrist actigraphy for 48 hours each month during the 6-month follow-up assessments. The trajectory and determinants of sleep quality were identified using a generalized estimation equation approach.

Results:

The FCs’ sleep quality significantly decreased as the patient’s death approached. Family caregivers who were women or older, had a relative with a longer survival period after diagnosis, reported higher levels of depression and fatigue, and provided lower levels of assistance to their relatives experienced more sleep disturbance.

Conclusion:

The sleep quality of Taiwanese FCs significantly deteriorated as the death of the terminally ill patients with cancer approached. Early detection of the FCs’ sleep disturbance, increasing their self-awareness of sleep problems, and providing nonpharmacological interventions and psychosocial support may be helpful for FCs to improve their quantity and quality of sleep.

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