Coaching Family Caregivers to Become Better Problem Solvers When Caring for Persons with Advanced Cancer

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Dionne-Odom J. N., Lyons K. D., Akyar I., Bakitas M. A.

JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK IN END-OF-LIFE & PALLIATIVE CARE, vol.12, pp.63-81, 2016 (ESCI) identifier identifier identifier


Family caregivers of persons with advanced cancer often take on responsibilities that present daunting and complex problems. Serious problems that go unresolved may be burdensome and result in negative outcomes for caregivers' psychological and physical health and affect the quality of care delivered to the care recipients with cancer, especially at the end of life. Formal problem-solving training approaches have been developed over the past several decades to assist individuals with managing problems faced in daily life. Several of these problem-solving principles and techniques were incorporated into ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life End), an "early" palliative care telehealth intervention for individuals diagnosed with advanced cancer and their family caregivers. A hypothetical case resembling the situations of actual caregiver participants in ENABLE that exemplifies the complex problems that caregivers face is presented, followed by presentation of an overview of ENABLE's problem-solving key principles, techniques, and steps in problem-solving support. Though more research is needed to formally test the use of problem-solving support in social work practice, social workers can easily incorporate these techniques into everyday practice.