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Balancing Work and Hospice Caregiving—A Closer Look at Burden, Preparedness, and Mental Health

      Abstract

      Context

      Navigating end-of-life is stressful and many caregivers feel unprepared for caregiving tasks. Being employed may further increase caregiver burden.

      Objectives

      Study objectives were 1) to examine the relationships among caregiver burden (financial burden, daily schedule disruption, lack of family support) and mental health (depression and anxiety), and 2) explore if preparedness for caregiving mediates these relationships in employed hospice caregivers.

      Methods

      This was a secondary analysis of baseline data from a prospective multi-site project of hospice family caregivers of cancer patients. Employed hospice caregivers (n = 166) completed items assessing burden, mental health, and preparedness for caregiving. Hierarchical linear regression and mediation analysis were conducted.

      Results

      Caregivers were primarily White (n = 155, 93%) and female (n = 116, 70%), with a mean age of 55 (SD = 11.7). After controlling for demographic variables, financial burden was significantly related to anxiety (b =.16[.001, .32], P <.05), lack of family support was significantly related to depression (b = 1.27[.76, 1.79], P <.01), and daily schedule disruption was significantly related to both anxiety (b = 1.92[1.07, 2.77], P <.01), and depression (b =.70[.14, 1.26], P <.05) in regression analyses. In mediation analysis, financial burden, daily schedule disruption, and lack of family support were indirectly related to both depression and anxiety through preparedness for caregiving.

      Conclusion

      To better support employed caregivers, hospice team members should be ready to address concerns about finances, daily schedule changes, and family support and screen for preparedness for caregiving. Developing strategies to help employed hospice caregivers feel more prepared may mitigate adverse mental health outcomes.

      Key Words

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