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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Here's Why African-American Caregivers Can Better Handle the Job Than Their White Counterparts

African American caregiver with patient

African Americans who are providing care for their loved ones with cancer showed fewer possibilities of distress and depression compared to their white peers. It is possibly caused by stronger social support, according to the study presented at the 11th AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.
The research revolved around 90 caregivers, 44 of which are African Americans and 46 are whites. All have been providing end-of-life care to cancer patients. They were surveyed on demographics, preparedness for caregiving, and distress, and rated them on the CES-D scale for depression and the Zarit Burden scale for caregiver burden.

Results show African-American caregivers reported significantly lower distress, depression, and caregiver burden. Overall, older caregivers reported lower levels of distress than younger caregivers.

One of the major factors in the respondents' mental and emotional well-being is the preparation for the caregiving role, according to Maria Thomson, the study's co-lead author and Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Thomson noted that those who felt they received adequate information, training, and support regarding the caregiving role were significantly less likely to report distress. She added that being religious also played a role with African-American caregivers more likely to identify church or any faith-based groups as a source of social support than white caregivers.

These results are deemed important in the development of more effective caregiver supports. The authors mentioned, however, that the study represents only preliminary findings from a larger, ongoing study that will further provide more complete information about the factors that affect caregivers' emotional and mental health.
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