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ISSN: 1734-3402
Family Medicine & Primary Care Review
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vol. 19
Original paper

Does anybody support the supporters? Social support in the cancer patient-caregiver dyad

Grażyna Dębska, Małgorzata Pasek, Ewa Wojtyna

Family Medicine & Primary Care Review 2017; 19(2): 110–113
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Background. Cancer and its treatment enforce changes in patient functioning. The principal objective of each patient is to efficiently cope with the disease, i.e. to completely recover or at least to slow its progression. Under such circumstances, patients and their relatives require various forms of support: emotional, informational and instrumental.

Objectives. The aim of the study was to determine the level and sources of support available for cancer patients and their close relatives, who deal with the latter on a daily basis.

Material and methods. The cross-sectional self-inventory study, conducted at cancer centers in Krakow and Tarnow, included 193 pairs of cancer patients and their caregivers. The study was based on the Berlin Social Support Scales and a sociodemographic-clinical survey.

Results. Cancer patients had more perceived and received social support than their caregivers. Patients identified more sources of available support than their caregivers. When the level of support was stratified according to the caregiver’s relation with the patient,

caregivers-partners and caregivers-children presented higher levels of perceived support than caregivers-siblings and caregivers-parents. Caregivers received less support than patients from medical personnel.

Conclusions. The discrepancy between the level of social support among patient and their caregivers leads to further research on the patient-caregiver dyad, especially with regard to the consequences for the whole family’s quality of life. In connection with a deficit of support for caregivers from oncologists, GP’s may constitute a valuable source of support, especially emotional and informational.

social support, cancer, patient, caregiver

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