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caregiver, depression symptoms, social support, symptom distress



  1. Rivera, Henry R. Jr PhD, ACNP, AOCNP
  2. McMillan, Susan C. PhD, ARNP, FAAN


End-of-life patients are increasingly cared for in the home by family, friends, or neighbors. There are known physical and psychological effects of caregiving, including symptoms of depression. Most studies of voluntary caregivers have focused on caregivers of dementia patients. The purpose of the study was to examine predictors of depression symptoms in hospice cancer caregivers. A secondary analysis used baseline assessment data of patients and caregivers from a larger study of patient-caregiver dyads from two large hospices. Wife caregiver, patient symptom global distress, and caregiver support satisfaction accounted for 13% of the variance in caregiver depression symptoms as measured by the 10-item Clinical Epidemiological Scale-Depression Scale (CES-D 10) (mean, 2.97 [SD, 2.15]) in the sample (n = 578). Approximately 38% of caregivers had CES-D 10 scores of 4 or greater, predictive for a diagnosis of depression, upon patient admission to hospice. Examining odds ratios, wife caregiver was positively predictive, and caregiver support satisfaction was negatively predictive of CES-D 10 scores of 4 or greater. The results support screening of caregivers for depression symptoms, the importance of support satisfaction, and the need to examine additional caregiver factors that may contribute to depression symptoms in caregivers of hospice cancer patients.