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Hospice Caregivers at Risk for Depression

Hospice Caregivers at Risk for Depression

A new University of Missouri study discovered that nearly one-quarter of hospice caregivers were moderately or severely depressed and nearly one-third had moderate or severe anxiety.

Currently, more than 34 million people in the U.S. care for terminally ill love ones, but few resources are available to help them navigate the challenges they encounter.

Researchers recommend that health providers remember to treat the whole family, providing ongoing screening to family caregivers to identify early signs of depression and anxiety.

The study, “The Prevalence and Risks for Depression and Anxiety in Hospice Caregivers,” appears in the journal Palliative Medicine.

“While some sadness and worry are expected components of caring for a dying family member or loved one, clinical depression and anxiety shouldn’t be,” said Debra Parker-Oliver, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the MU School of Medicine and lead researcher of the study.

“We have a population that is under immense stress and is not being acknowledged. Basic assessment tools should be used to help increase the likelihood of early detection and treatment of depression and anxiety in family caregivers.”

Parker-Oliver and her colleagues conducted depression and anxiety assessments with 395 family caregivers.

The researchers found that 23 percent of caregivers were moderately or severely depressed, and 33 percent of caregivers had moderate or severe anxiety.

In addition, Parker-Oliver identified several risk factors associated with depression and anxiety among caregivers.

“We found that younger caregivers were more likely to be depressed or anxious,” Parker-Oliver said.

“We also found that caregivers who are married and caring for a family member with a diagnosis other than cancer, such as Alzheimer’s disease, had higher levels of depression.”

According to Parker-Oliver, many of these simple assessments are not used because of the misconceived notion among health providers that the family caregivers are not their patients.

“Health providers usually are more focused on the terminally ill patient instead of the entire family,” Parker-Oliver said.

“However, in many scenarios, it is a family disease. It’s fair to say they have two patients: the caregiver and the person who is terminally ill.”

Parker-Oliver said that assessment tools for depression and anxiety are widely affordable and have the potential for improved clinical outcomes for family caregivers in need of additional support.

Source: University of Missouri

Hospice Caregivers at Risk for Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2017). Hospice Caregivers at Risk for Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/02/13/hospice-caregivers-at-risk-for-depression/116402.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 13 Feb 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Feb 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.