Family Caregiver Depressive Symptom and Grief Outcomes From the ENABLE III Randomized Controlled Trial

Academic Article


  • © 2016 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Context Little is known about whether early palliative care (EPC) support for family caregivers (CGs) impacts depressive symptoms and grief after care recipients die. Objectives To assess after-death CG depressive symptom and grief scores for early compared to delayed group CGs. Methods We conducted a randomized controlled trial (10/2010–9/2013) of an EPC telehealth intervention for CGs (n = 123) initiated at the time of care recipients’ advanced cancer diagnosis (early group) or 12 weeks later (delayed group) in a rural comprehensive cancer center, affiliated clinics, and a Veterans Administration medical center. The ENABLE [Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends] CG intervention consisted of three weekly sessions, monthly follow-up, and a bereavement call. CGs completed the Center for Epidemiological Study–Depression (CES-D) scale and the Prigerson Inventory of Complicated Grief-Short Form (PG13) 8–12 weeks after care recipients’ deaths. Crude and covariate-adjusted between-group differences were estimated and tested using general linear models. Results For care recipients who died (n = 70), 44 CGs (early: n = 19; delayed: n = 25) completed after-death questionnaires. Mean depressive symptom scores (CES-D) for the early group was 14.6 (SD = 10.7) and for the delayed group was 17.6 (SD = 11.8). Mean complicated grief scores (PG13) for the early group was 22.7 (SD = 4.9) and for the delayed group was 24.9 (SD = 6.9). Adjusted between-group differences were not statistically significant (CES-D: d = 0.07, P = 0.88; PG13: d = −0.21, P = 0.51). Conclusion CGs’ depressive symptom and complicated grief scores 8–12 weeks after care recipients’ deaths were not statistically different based on the timing of EPC support. The impact of timing of CG EPC interventions on CGs bereavement outcomes requires further investigation.
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    Author List

  • Dionne-Odom JN; Azuero A; Lyons KD; Hull JG; Prescott AT; Tosteson T; Frost J; Dragnev KH; Bakitas MA
  • Start Page

  • 378
  • End Page

  • 385
  • Volume

  • 52
  • Issue

  • 3