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Caregivers need emotional support, too

Patients aren’t the only ones who need emotional support after a cancer diagnosis—caregivers need support as well. In a University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center study, researchers looked at 235 men with prostate cancer and their spouses. Couples were randomly assigned to receive standard clinical care alone or clinical care plus a family-based intervention that included three 90-minute home visits by nurses and two 30-minute phone sessions over four months. The interventions, designed to encourage communication, reduce stress and improve coping skills, provided patients with some improvements, but spouses experienced greater benefits. They had better physical quality of life, less uncertainty, a better attitude about caregiving and less hopelessness than spouses in the no-intervention group. Intervention spouses were also more confident about managing the illness and had better communication with their spouses. Study results appeared in the journal Cancer.