Post-intervention sustainability of a brief psycho-educational support group intervention for family caregivers of cancer patients

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Abstract

Introduction:

Family caregivers of cancer patients experience many negative effects due to the heavy responsibility involved. Although various psychosocial interventions have been found to improve caregivers' quality of life (QOL), the sustainability of the benefits of these interventions over time has been less consistently investigated and hence less clearly established. Extending previous research on the immediate post-intervention effects, this study aims to examine the trajectories of change in caregivers QOL over an 8-week follow-up period.

Methods:

Caregivers of patients attending an outpatient clinic at a cancer center in Singapore were recruited. Participants had to fulfill the following criteria: (a) between 21 and 74 years; (b) willing to attend hour-long weekly programs for 4 weeks; (c) able to understand, speak, and read English; (d) a family member living with and providing care and support for the patient; and (e) provide written informed consent. Participants completed the Caregiver QOL–Cancer scale at baseline, immediately post-intervention, and at 4 and 8 weeks after the end of the intervention. Data from 56 participants were analyzed.

Results:

Majority of participants exhibited a stable trajectory of change in their QOL, while a small number of participants either improved or declined.

Discussion:

Understanding the sustainability of the effects of the intervention is important in determining the need to initiate periodic “booster” sessions to provide consistent support for caregivers. Further research could investigate the sustainability over an even longer period, as well as intra-individual change trajectories using growth modeling among a larger sample.

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