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Caregivers benefit from cancer support programs, U-M study finds
Date:11/11/2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich. As cancer care begins to address the emotional needs of patients, a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center shows that its important to address the caregivers emotional needs as well.

Researchers found that a targeted intervention aimed at prostate cancer patients and their caregiver spouses provided significant improvements for the spouse in physical and emotional quality of life.

We need to provide more care and concern to the family caregiver of cancer patients. They have a vital role. We can no longer leave them in the waiting room or on the sidelines, says lead study author Laurel Northouse, Ph.D., R.N., co-director of the Socio-Behavioral Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and Mary Lou Willard French Professor of Nursing at the U-M School of Nursing.

Results of the study appear Nov. 12 in the early online version of the journal Cancer. The study will be published in the journals Dec. 15 print edition.

The study looked at 235 men with prostate cancer and their spouses. Patients and spouses completed a series of questionnaires addressing physical and emotional health at the start of the study, and again at four months, eight months and 12 months later.

The couples were randomly assigned to receive standard clinical care with or without a special family-based intervention. The intervention, called the FOCUS Program, included three 90-minute home visits by nurses and two 30-minute phone sessions over the course of four months.

FOCUS was developed by U-M researchers and addresses five areas: family involvement, optimistic attitude, coping effectiveness, uncertainty reduction and symptom management. Interventions were designed to encourage communication between the couple, reduce stress and improve coping skills.

The researchers found that while patients reported some improvements after the FOCUS intervention, the spouses
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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