TITLE

Experience of meaning in life in bereaved informal caregivers of palliative care patients

AUTHOR(S)
Brandstätter, Monika; Kögler, Monika; Baumann, Urs; Fensterer, Veronika; Küchenhoff, Helmut; Borasio, Gian; Fegg, Martin
PUB. DATE
May 2014
SOURCE
Supportive Care in Cancer;May2014, Vol. 22 Issue 5, p1391
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Purpose: Providing care for terminally ill family members places an enormous burden on informal caregivers. Meaning in life (MiL) may be a protective factor, but is jeopardised in caregiving and bereavement. This study evaluates the following questions: To what extent do bereaved informal caregivers of palliative care (PC) patients experience meaning in their lives? What differences emerge in carers compared to the general German population? How does MiL relate to well-being in former caregivers? Methods: Eighty-four bereaved PC caregivers completed the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation, the Brief Symptom Inventory, the WHOQOL-BREF, a single-item numerical rating scale of quality of life, and the Satisfaction with Life Scale. The experience of MiL of bereaved caregivers was compared to a representative population sample ( n = 977). Results: The overall MiL fulfillment of bereaved caregivers (69 % female, age 55.5 ± 12.9 years) was significantly lower than in the general population (68.5 ± 19.2 vs. 83.3 ± 14, p < .001), as was the overall importance ascribed to their meaning framework (76.6 ± 13.6 vs. 85.6 ± 12.3, p < .001). PC caregivers are far more likely to list friends, leisure, nature/animals, and altruism. Higher MiL was correlated with better life satisfaction and quality of life. Conclusion: Coping with the loss of a loved one is associated with changes in MiL framework and considerably impairs a carer's experience of MiL fulfillment. Individual MiL is associated with well-being in PC caregivers during early bereavement. Specific interventions for carers targeted at meaning reconstruction during palliative care and bereavement are needed to help individuals regain a sense of meaning and purpose.
ACCESSION #
95124124

 

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