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Complementary and Alternative Medicine Attitudes and Use, Caregiver Burden, and Psychological Well-being in Caregivers of Patients with Lung Cancer

  • Author(s): Saul, Trisha
  • Advisor(s): Evangelista, Lorraine s
  • et al.

Lung cancer (LC) is the second leading cause of death and leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Support and care for patients with LC are often provided by a network of informal caregivers composed of family and friends who are essential in helping individuals cope with the challenges associated with their disease. The extent and diversity of the caregiving experience may jeopardize psychological well-being (i.e., anxiety, depression, health-related quality of life [HRQOL]). Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches have been used in other populations with promising outcomes. However, in the LC-caregiver population, the use of CAM is currently in its infancy. The aims of this exploratory, descriptive study were to 1) describe caregiver experience and psychological well-being; 2) examine relationships between caregiver characteristics, caregiver experiences, and psychological well-being; and 3) identify independent predictors of CAM attitudes, CAM use, anxiety, and depression. A convenience sample of 62 caregivers were recruited using social media and referrals in Orange County, CA. Inclusion criteria included > 18 years of age, self-identified primary caregiver of a patient diagnosed with LC, patient has received treatment in the past 12 months, able to speak, read, and understand English, and willing to participate in surveys. Mean participant age was 37.9  9.1, 33(53%) female, 34(55%) white, and 25(40%) were spouses of the patient. Over 53(85%) had positive CAM attitudes, and CAM mean use of 4.8  2.47 of 26. Caregiver burden dimensions ranged from 19.4% to 25.8% out of 100%. Clinically significant levels of anxiety (61%) depression (64.5%) were found. Physical and mental HRQOL were reduced compared to the national average at 39.1  6.6 and 39.2  6.3, respectively. Significant associations were found between CAM attitudes and CAM use, and college graduate (p = .029, p = .034), full-time employment (p = .001, p = .012), and income ≥ $76,000 (p = .001, p = .002), respectively. Multiple regression found that relationship to the patient and income explained 32% of the variability in CAM use. Future research should focus on intervention studies with specific CAM modalities of interest and the impact on psychological well-being.

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