The overall purpose of this study is to develop and pilot-test a self-administered, theory-based “finding balance” writing intervention for older adults who are bereaved after caregiving for a spouse with cancer.
Often support systems may not be adequate after caregiving ends and the bereaved caregiver may have difficulty in many ways during this time.
Currently, the writing-based intervention is being pilot-tested in the Saskatoon Health Region, with the support of Janet Martens, Bereavement Coordinator, and Meredith Wild, Manager of Palliative Care Services for the Saskatoon Health Region. Older adults are being interviewed in their homes and given the intervention to see if it helps them with their grief and difficulty finding balance. The data collectors are Registered Nurses, Jill Bally and Tammy Gebhardt.
This study received funding from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.
In Phase 1, the main processes were identified in the grounded theory of finding balance (Holtslander, Bally, and Steeves, 2011). These processes formed the foundation of a Delphi study, Phase 2, as the writing tool was further refined by bereavement experts resulting in a highly focused writing tool. In Phase 3, forty participants will be randomly assigned to either treatment or control. Measurements of hope, grief, and balance will be taken before the intervention and at 2 weeks. The control group will receive the intervention after the 2 week measurements have been done. Interviews about the usefulness of the tool and how it could be improved will be conducted. Overall health and personal data such as age, gender, physical concerns, support, and the caregiving experience will also be collected and compared to the overall study findings.
Developing a self-administered writing tool that encourages finding balance after caregiving ends is an innovative primary health care approach providing a health promotion strategy for a unique, needy, and often neglected population.
This study has been funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.