Problem-Solving Dimensions among Caregivers of People with Cancer Receiving Outpatient Palliative Care

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Family caregivers of people with cancer encounter a wide range of problems including challenges managing patients’ symptoms, difficulties navigating complex healthcare systems, and financial stressors associated with caregiving. Outpatient palliative care teams are ideally positioned to help caregivers respond to these challenges; however, little evidence is available to inform problem-solving support for caregivers in this setting. This article presents results from a secondary analysis of data obtained as part of a randomized clinical trial of a problem-solving intervention for family caregivers of people with cancer receiving outpatient palliative care. It describes the extent to which caregivers report adoption of positive and negative problem orientations and use of rational, impulsive, and avoidant problem-solving styles, and examines whether these problem-solving dimensions differ by age and gender. Results reveal statistically significant negative correlations between caregiver age and positive and negative problem orientations and use of a rational problem-solving style, and statistically significant gender differences regarding negative problem orientation and use of an impulsive problem-solving style. Findings from this exploratory study highlight unique potential strengths and needs of caregivers and set the stage for future research on problem-solving among cancer caregivers in the growing field of outpatient palliative care.

cancer, caregivers, palliative care, problem solving, social work