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Patterns of stress and support in social support networks of in-home hospice cancer family caregivers

Authors
  • Guo, Jia-Wen
  • Reblin, Maija
  • Tay, Djin
  • Ellington, Lee
  • Beck, Anna C.
  • Cloyes, Kristin G
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of social and personal relationships
Publication Date
Jun 16, 2021
Volume
38
Issue
11
Pages
3121–3141
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/02654075211024743
PMID: 34898795
PMCID: PMC8664070
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Article
License
Unknown

Abstract

Family caregivers of home hospice cancer patients often experience burden and distress, which can be mitigated by perceived social support. However, less attention has been paid to the non-family sources of support within social networks, or to how sources of support may also be sources of stress. We describe support and stress in social networks of hospice family caregivers and identify caregiving characteristics associated with classes identified in our data. We collected demographic and psychosocial self-report data from family caregivers providing in-home hospice care for advanced cancer patients (N = 90). Caregivers also reported perceived support and stress from specific family and non-family relationships. We identified three classes with unique patterns of stress and support within caregivers’ support networks using a latent class analysis. Classes include: 1) high support, low stress across family and non-family network members (“supportive”; 53% of caregivers); 2) high support, high stress across family and non-family network (“ambivalent maximizers”; 26%); and 3) high support, high stress across family network only (“family-focused ambivalent”; 21%). Caregivers in the ambivalent maximizer class reported more burden than caregivers in the supportive class ( p = .024). This is one of the first studies to systematically explore the role of non-family support, as well as how stress and support co-occur within relationships and across networks. As informal support networks of hospice family caregivers are complex and multifaceted, understanding the patterns of support and stress across various network members is essential to offer services to more effectively manage caregiver burden.

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