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Family carers share the illness experience of the dying patient

Date:
June 12, 2010
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Family carers need to be supported throughout the whole illness of their loved ones as they witness and share much of the experience of the dying person, according to new research.

Family carers need to be supported throughout the whole illness of their loved ones as they witness and share much of the experience of the dying person, according to research published online in the British Medical Journal.

It has already been established that individuals dying from cancer experience distress particularly at four key time points -- at diagnosis, at home after initial treatment, at recurrence, and during the terminal stage, says the study.

The authors, led by Professor Scott Murray from the University of Edinburgh, are now suggesting that family caregivers may also experience typical patterns of wellbeing and distress that their relatives are going through.

Professor Murray and colleagues carried out 42 interviews with patients with lung cancer and 46 interviews with their family carers. The interviews took place every three months for up to a year or until the patient died.

The results show that carers were generally in better health than the patients, but any health problems they had could diminish their ability to care.

The authors say that carers often felt run down and that they were sharing the illness, especially as time went on and death approached. They write: "Carers, like patients, often felt they were on an emotional rollercoaster, experiencing peaks and troughs at key times of stress and uncertainty in the cancer trajectory."

The authors conclude that psychological and existential support should be targeted at carers at the four key stages of the terminal illness. "It may also be empowering for carers to know that it is common to feel stressed and in need of support at certain times," they add.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Scott A Murray, Marilyn Kendall, Kirsty Boyd, Liz Grant, Gill Highet, Aziz Sheikh. Archetypal trajectories of social, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing and distress in family care givers of patients with lung cancer: secondary analysis of serial qualitative interviews. British Medical Journal, 2010;340:c2581 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.c2581

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Family carers share the illness experience of the dying patient." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610191050.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2010, June 12). Family carers share the illness experience of the dying patient. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610191050.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Family carers share the illness experience of the dying patient." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610191050.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

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