Cancer progression, caregiver burden and depression; a case study of female family caregivers at Uganda Cancer Institute, Mulago National Referral Hospital
Nagujja, Angella K
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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally. It is known to have a poor prognosis and treatments that are not only expensive, but may prove ineffective especially for cancer that has progressed to advanced stages. This study aimed to investigate the link between cancer progression, caregiver burden and depression among female family caregivers of cancer patients in Uganda. This was done by comparing the caregiver burden levels and the depression levels of caregivers whose patients were at different stages of cancer progression. The study employed both comparative and correlational study designs, with a sample of 150 adult female first degree relatives of cancer patients at the Uganda Cancer Institute. Data was collected using a self-report structured questionnaire, and by reviewing patients’ medical files to obtain the cancer stages. The most commonly diagnosed cancers were breast (38%), cervical (19.3%) and prostrate (6.7%). Many of the patients whose caregivers were interviewed had advanced stage cancer (52.7%). Cancer progression did not significantly impact the differences in levels of caregiver burden (p = .179 > .05) or the levels of depression among caregivers (p = .523 > .05). However, caregiver burden was found to be a significant predictor of depression among the caregivers. Caregiver burden and depression therefore should not be ignored since they have far reaching consequences not just for the caregivers, but for the patients as well. Interventions should thus be developed whose main focus is on the family caregivers by helping them to adjust to their role through training, proper and adequate dispensation of information, and provision of counselling services.
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