ONS Connections: Instrument can measure needs of caregivers of neuro-oncology patients

PHOENIX—A needs assessment tool can identify specific needs of caregivers of patients with a primary malignant brain tumor (PMBT), according to research presented at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Connections: Advancing Care Through Science conference.

Poor emotional and physical health due to unmet needs is reported by family caregivers of patients with a PMBT. This study sought to examine a factor structure in a needs assessment tool that was newly developed for caregivers of patients with PMBT. The instrument would be able to help clinicians assess the needs of a caregiver in order to prioritize efforts and provide resources and information.

The Adapted Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center Model was used to examine both behavior and biological pathways to account for how psychosocial factors and illness susceptibility are related. Open-ended interviews were conducted with 88 caregivers to form the content of the instrument.

This study recruited 62 adult caregivers from a cancer center within 1 month of the diagnosis of their family members. Care recipients were at least 21 years of age; one-third were male and two-thirds were female. Eighty-four percent were married to the patient, and 70% had private insurance. Both quantitative and qualitative measures were completed by the caregivers at diagnosis, and at 4, 8, and 12 months after diagnosis. The analysis identified ten factors, which were combined into five categories by conceptual analysis. The categories are legal and financial issues, disease management, symptom management, communications, and maintaining one's own health.

The tool has strong reliability, as indicated by its coefficient alpha of 0.88. Using this instrument clinically will allow specific needs of caregivers to be identified. Then, individualized interventions can be tailored to the specific care situations of caregivers, which will improve caregiver health and the quality of care that the patient receives.

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