Informal Caregiver Training on Home Care and Cancer Symptom Management Prior to Hospital Discharge: A Feasibility Study

Cristina C. Hendrix

Charlene Ray

ONF 2006, 33(4), 793-798. DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.793-798

Purpose/Objectives: To determine the feasibility of individualized caregiver training for home care and symptom management conducted at the bedside of older patients with cancer prior to hospital discharge.

Design: Pilot study.

Setting: The Extended Care Rehabilitation Center at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center in North Carolina.

Sample: 7 female informal caregivers with a mean age of 56 (range = 26-76). More than half were African American. Most commonly, caregivers were spouses of the patients with cancer.

Methods: Individualized and experiential training on home care and cancer symptom management was conducted at the bedside of patients before hospital discharge. Caregiver demographic data were collected. An informal interview at the end of the training asked about the usefulness of the training in preparing for home caregiving.

Main Research Variables: Feasibility of the training.

Findings: Individualized bedside training to caregivers prior to hospital discharge is feasible. All caregivers noted the relevance of the content as well as the approach to the training.

Conclusions: When given an opportunity for training on symptom management and home care, informal caregivers were very interested in participating. The individualized approach gave caregivers an opportunity to have their particular needs met. The flexibility of when to conduct the training proved to be crucial when soliciting attendance. The biggest challenge was in recruiting caregiver subjects through patients with cancer.

Implications for Nursing: The impetus now is to look at the effects of the training on caregiver-patient variables as well as the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of such an approach to caregiver training.

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