The relationship between hope and caregiver strain in family caregivers of patients with advanced cancer

Cancer Nurs. Mar-Apr 2012;35(2):99-105. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31821e9a02.


Background: Today, family caregivers (FCs) are involved in all aspects of patient care. Hope influences one's ability to cope with stressful situations. However, little information is available on how FCs' levels of hope influence the strain they experience in their caregiving role.

Objectives: The purposes of this study were to describe the levels of hope and caregiver strain in FCs of patients with advanced cancer and examine the relationship between hope and caregiver strain in these FCs. In addition, differences in hope and caregiver strain associated with a number of demographic characteristics are described.

Methods: Family caregivers completed a demographic questionnaire, Herth Hope Index (HHI), and Caregiver Strain Index (CSI).

Results: Of the 112 FCs, the majority were female (60%) and spouses (94%), with a mean age of 63.1 (SD, 10.7) years. Mean HHI score was 36.8 (SD, 4.0). Approximately 20% of the FCs reported a high level of caregiver strain, and these FCs were younger. The prevalence of perceived strain across subscales of the CSI was highest for emotional adjustment (70%). No relationships were found between HHI total scores and any of the CSI subscale scores. However, FCs with lower HHI scores reported significantly higher levels of caregiver strain.

Conclusions: Findings from this study suggest that younger individuals may represent a high-risk group of FCs for both lower levels of hope and higher levels of caregiver strain.

Implications for practice: Oncology nurses need to identify FCs at highest risk for increased strain and provide interventions to enhance hope and decrease perceived strain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires