Family caregivers' experiences of caring for elderly women undergoing treatment for breast cancer in Thailand

Author: Chayanisa Kemathad

Kemathad, Chayanisa, 2019 Family caregivers' experiences of caring for elderly women undergoing treatment for breast cancer in Thailand, Flinders University, College of Medicine and Public Health

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Background: Breast cancer and its subsequent treatments affect elderly women’s physical and psychological health. After undergoing treatment, those diagnosed with breast cancer encounter significant side effects and also increase emotional distress. Elderly patients with breast cancer often have multimorbidity and are less likely to survive due to old age. They require appropriate care to manage various needs, often from family caregivers who play an important role in the transition from hospital to home setting. Family caregivers need to fulfil both caregiver roles and their normal family roles. This may place additional burdens and greatly affect the mental and physical health of the family caregivers. Currently, there appears to be little evidence in the literature regarding Thai family caregivers of elderly women with breast cancer. This study aims to explore the lived experience of family caregivers providing care for elderly patients with breast cancer in Thailand.

Methodology: This research uses phenomenology to reveal the experiences of caregivers. Ethical approval was given prior to collecting data in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Data collection was conducted using digitally recorded audio with semi-structured interviews through the open-ended and closed-ended questions. The 22 family caregivers were recruited from Thai healthcare services.

Findings: This research provides a deep understanding of family caregivers’ experiences and the meaning of caregiving in the context of providing care for the elderly with breast cancer. The stage of disease (initial or advanced phase of caregiving) contributes to caregiver burden. The findings of this study are divided into four themes: family caregivers’ relationships, acceptance, care management, and burden of care.

Conclusions: The importance of current findings on nursing practice, nursing education and health policy are presented. Results may help health professionals to understand family caregivers’ views and inform future nursing practices. This would help the health professional regarding managing family concerns to advocate and take action to prepare family caregivers in coping and enhancing their role performance. Understanding caregiver perspectives may also inform policy makers’ decisions to support family caregivers and promote caregiver roles in communities. Welfare system is required to provide sufficient support for family caregivers during assisting the elderly in Thai society.

Keywords: Family caregivers, breast cancer, elderly women, phenomenology

Subject: Public Health thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Medicine and Public Health
Supervisor: Malcolm Bond