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Keywords:

  • cancer caregivers;
  • depressive symptoms;
  • ethnicity;
  • caregiving stress;
  • social support

Abstract

Objective

Few studies have examined prospectively and longitudinally depressive symptoms of family caregivers who provide care to colorectal cancer patients, and fewer have addressed ethnic minorities in this regard. This study investigated the relations of social support and caregiving stress with caregivers' depressive symptoms during the first year since the relative's diagnosis, as well as the role of ethnicity in such relations.

Methods

Seventy-nine caregivers provided complete data at 2 months (T1), 6 months (T2), and 12 months (T3) after their relative's cancer diagnosis. Demographics and caregiving experiences were measured at T1. Depressive symptoms were assessed at T1 through T3.

Results

Greater caregiving stress and lack of social support were significant predictors of greater depressive symptoms. The adverse effect of caregiving stress was more pronounced among African American caregivers, whereas the beneficial effect of social support was more pronounced among White caregivers.

Conclusions

The findings highlight the importance of both caregiving stress and lack of social support early in caregivership. Findings also suggest that caregivers may benefit from programs tailored for their ethnicity. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.