227414 Examining the Multiple Roles of Cancer Caregivers: Under the Support Services Radar Screen

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Maghboeba Mosavel, PhD , Department of Social and Behavioral Health, School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth Universtiy, Richmond, VA
Catherine Oakar, BA , Research Associate, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Kimberly Sanders, MPA , NEON, Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Centers, Cleveland, OH
This presentation explores lessons learned about the psychosocial, mental and physical needs of low-income, minority cancer caregivers. In this community-based participatory research study, we highlight the considerable disparities in available support services within low-income urban areas. We triangulate data from town hall meetings, advisory committee meetings, and interviews with low-income, minority cancer caregivers. Interviews were conducted by cancer survivors and caregivers themselves.

Our study results indicate that caregivers serve as a support system and take on multiple roles, including confidante, caretaker, nutrition expert, driver, educator, financier, decision-maker and/or patient navigator. Their lives are frequently put on hold to help their loved one through the challenges of cancer, yet they lack the necessary support for their own diverse needs. Caregivers often crave the knowledge transfer and comradeship of another caregiver who has experienced cancer care-taking. However, resources such as support groups, education and respite care are not regularly available in low-income urban areas. In Cleveland, Ohio, where this study took place, myriad organizations that address caregivers' needs often exist in the surrounding suburban areas. Despite these organizations' efforts to cater to the inner-city population, cultural resistance and physical barriers (including transportation) impede service utilization by low-income, minority caregivers.

Currently, caregivers lack the requisite resources to learn the strategies and skills that enhance their ability to provide supportive cancer care while avoiding burnout and maintaining their own lives. Policymakers and public health practitioners need to understand the importance of developing and implementing policies that provide increased resources for low-income, minority caregivers.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Provision of health care to the public
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the psychosocial, cultural, spiritual, mental and physical needs of cancer caregivers, particularly in low-income, minority communities; Define the necessary services that caregivers need to sufficiently care for a cancer survivor while balancing their own lives and avoiding burnout; Describe the necessary planning of policies that afford caregivers requisite support services

Keywords: Caregivers, Access and Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the study coordinator for this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.