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Keywords

Cancer patients, Caregivers, Hope, Online support groups

 

Authors

  1. KLEMM, PAULA DNSc, RN, OCN
  2. WHEELER, ERLINDA DNS, RN

Abstract

The demands placed on cancer caregivers are well documented. Support for informal caregivers has been shown to increase hope and decrease psychosocial morbidity. The Internet is a readily available means of support for cancer caregivers, however little research on online support for informal caregivers of cancer patients exists. Descriptive statistics and qualitative analysis were used to evaluate messages posted over a 2-month period on an online cancer caregiver listserv. Three major themes emerged from the data: hope, emotional roller coaster, and physical/emotional/psychological responses. Supportive and hopeful statements prevailed among online participants in the current study. However, subjects also described the emotional roller coaster associated with caregiving. Emotional/physical/psychological responses included anger, weakness, exhaustion, grief, and sadness. Outcome research is needed to help evaluate the efficacy of online support for caregivers. Findings in this study can help nurses focus on some problems common to caregivers of cancer patients and plan appropriate interventions and research.