Factors associated with depressive distress among Taiwanese family caregivers of cancer patients at the end of life

Siew Tzuh Tang, Chung Yi Li, Yen Chi Liao

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Family caregivers in East Asian countries are known to have a strong sense of filial piety and a traditional caregiving ideology. They are generally presumed to be protected from psychological distress arising from caregiving. However, there is scant information regarding the impact of caregiving on Chinese/Taiwanese families. The purpose of this study was aimed at identifying those family caregivers of Taiwanese terminally ill cancer patients who are at risk of experiencing depressive distress from the following three categories of predisposing factors: 1) contextual factors; 2) stressors; and 3) appraisal of the caregiving situation. Of the 170 Taiwanese family caregivers of terminally ill cancer patients that participated in this survey, 129 (75.9%) were at an extraordinarily high risk of being distressed because of depressive symptoms (CES-D>15). Results indicated that family caregivers were vulnerable to clinically depressive distress if they were the patient's spouse (adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 2.89; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.19-7.01), or evaluated caregiving as imposing a greater negative impact on their own health (AOR: 1.27; 95% CI: 1.09-1.47). In contrast, if family caregivers felt very confident in their knowledge of how to take care of the patient at home (AOR: 0.35; 95% CI: 0.15-0.81), or were sufficiently aware of the patient's thoughts and feelings about disease experiences and symptoms (AOR: 0.47; 95% CI: 0.25-0.88), they were less likely to suffer from depressive distress. These finding have significant clinical implications when they are put into the context of Confucian cultures which place great emphasis on filial piety and familism. Interventions and policy should be developed to target spousal caregivers to enhance their confidence in caregiving and understanding of the patient's disease experiences. This will reduce the negative caregiving impact on the caregiver's health, which in turn may prevent the development of depressive distress among family caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jun 27

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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