Informal Caregivers of Hematopoietic Cell Transplant Patients

A Review and Recommendations for Interventions and Research

Robin Gemmill, MSN, RN, CNS, CWOCN; Liz Cooke, MN, RN, AOCN, ANP; Anna Cathy Williams, BS, RN; Marcia Grant, DNSc, RN, FAAN


Cancer Nurs. 2011;34(6):E13-E21. 

In This Article

Research Implications

Hematopoietic cell transplantation caregivers struggle with many issues, emotions, and an unpredictable and prolonged caregiving period. Concerns and needs vary as the caregiver and patient move along the HCT trajectory. Ongoing assessment of the IC provides information to support and offer referrals that are appropriate and timely. Current research has begun to demonstrate that interventions that effectively reduce caregiver strain include educational and/or skills acquisition related to the disease, symptom management, available resources, psychosocial support discussing caregiver concerns/feelings with a referral to psychotherapy when indicated, and integration of health promotion self-care behaviors into caregiver lifestyle.

Additional research is indicated to test the effectiveness of interventions that appear to positively affect the caregiver-patient dyad relationship and, in doing so, better support the patient. The ability to focus limited resources is critical in developing effective strategies to support the caregiver-patient dyad throughout the continuum of care. Targeting those caregivers who exhibit distress or reduced well-being will allow for individualized timely interventions. Caregiver assessment, followed by nursing interventions tailored to match caregiver needs, can be used to address their health status and QOL. Because of the long trajectory of HCT treatment and recovery, frequent and timely reassessment and intervention are needed. These clinical recommendations merit additional testing and research.


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