A Study of Mindfulness Exercises for Informal Caregivers with Caregiver Strain
Jennifer M. Remetta
Dr. Lynn Painter
Dr. Lauren Murphy
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania - Department of Nursing
Background: Cancer remains the second leading cause of death worldwide (World Health Organization, 2018). Family and friends often find themselves accepting the caregiver role with little or no training. Caregivers may experience both positive and negative effects of caregiving. The consequence of providing this care creates a strain on many caregivers. Increased physical and emotional stress may be detrimental to a caregiver and may lead to a decreased lifespan. Studies have shown the positive effects mindfulness can have on one’s emotional and physical well-being. Purpose: The purpose of this quality improvement project was to identify caregiver strain in informal caregivers of oncology patients and reduce strain thru the implementation and practice of mindfulness exercises. Methods: Convenience sampling was used to recruit participants. Participants were asked to complete a demographic survey and baseline Modified Caregiver Strain Index (MCSI) via Qualtrics. The MCSI consists of 13 questions to measure strain related to providing care. Participants were instructed to practice a 10-minute guided mindfulness exercise daily for 14 days. After 14 days, participants retook the MCSI. The results were analyzed to assess if mindfulness helped to decrease caregiver strain. Findings: Seven participants completed the pre-mindfulness exercise survey, while nine completed the post mindfulness exercise survey. However, only four sets of data could be utilized for data analysis because only four individuals correctly utilized the same unique identifier for both the pre- and post- tests. Due to the pre- and post-measurements of caregiver strain, a paired t-test was conducted to analyze the effectiveness of mindfulness exercises in decreasing caregiver strain. The p-value for the MCSI was not less than 0.05. However, a decrease in the mean indicated a decrease in caregiver strain. A total of seven of the questions which fall within three domains resulted in positive improvements in decreasing caregiver strain. The implementation of mindfulness exercises positively improved caregiver strain. Conclusion: A quality improvement project to assist in decreasing caregiver strain was implemented for informal caregivers caring for a loved one with cancer. The project explored the concept of practicing a simple, brief, and convenient online mindfulness exercise to improve caregivers’ well-being. Although, the project had a small sample size which was difficult to showcase statistically significant results, improvements were seen in three of the five domains measured within the MCSI. Overall benefits from practicing mindfulness align with the promotion of psychosocial and physical well being.
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Mindfulness; Cancer patients; Caregivers
Doctor of Nursing Practice