Caregiving Choice and Emotional Stress Among Cancer Caregivers

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Abstract

Caring for a relative or friend with cancer may be highly demanding and emotionally burdensome. Theory suggests that personal characteristics of a caregiver may contribute directly to a caregiver's emotional health. An underexplored variable is a caregiver's perception of choice in providing care to a relative or friend. Thus, this study sought to characterize perceived choice in providing care among family cancer caregivers and examine its association with emotional stress. This study is a secondary analysis of cross-sectional telephone interviews of 1,247 family caregivers, which included 104 cancer caregivers. The findings indicated that a high majority of cancer caregivers expressed elevated emotional stress. Most caregivers perceived themselves to have had a choice in providing care; however, a perceived lack of choice in providing care was significantly associated with greater emotional stress. Assessing clinical and policy-related strategies for alleviating concerns related to choice may be of value in the cancer context.

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