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Keywords:

  • caregiver;
  • carer stress;
  • liver transplantation;
  • living-related donation;
  • nursing

weng l.-c., huang h.-l., wang y.-w., chang c.-l., tsai c.-h. & lee w.-c. (2011) Primary caregiver stress in caring for a living-related liver transplantation recipient during the postoperative stage. Journal of Advanced Nursing 67(8), 1749–1757.

Abstract

Aim.  The aim of this study was to explore the stress experienced by the primary family caregiver of the living-related liver transplantation patient during the postoperative stage.

Background.  Living-related liver transplantation is a treatment choice for end-stage liver disease patients who face a shortage of available donated livers. Research suggests that the caregiver of the liver transplant recipient experiences tremendous stress because a family member is on the waiting list. Nevertheless, there are limited studies that investigate the caregiver experience of stress during this surgery.

Method.  This qualitative study used face-to-face semi-structured interviews to understand the subjective experiences of study participants. The study participants were drawn from a tertiary medical centre in northern Taiwan. During the data collection period (October 2007 to May 2008), 6 of the 12 caregivers agreed to participate in this study (= 6), all of whom were female and, except for one participant, were the wives of the recipients.

Results.  Participant stress was caused by the gap between expectations and primary caregiving experiences. In particular, the five themes that were identified: (a) unstable sentiment towards liver transplantation; (b) entanglement of burden; (c) non-synchronized family interaction; (d) distance from the healthcare professional; and (e) concern about the protector role function.

Conclusions.  The stress of primary caregivers of living-related liver transplantation is related to the gap between expectations and primary caregiving experiences. The immediate postoperative stage is a critical one for health professionals to provide intervention and management.