Objectives Caregivers play a key role in providing support to people with cancer. However, caregiving can be stressful and demanding, resulting in perceived caregiver burden. Social connectedness is considered partially independent from social support, yet few studies have examined whether social connectedness impacts caregiver burden. The current study sought to examine: (a) associations among social support, social connectedness and burden in a sample of cancer caregivers and (b) the mediating effect of social connectedness on the relationship between social support and caregiver burden.
Methods A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted. Data were collected as part of a larger project. The sample included 125 caregiver-cancer care recipient dyads. Caregivers completed the Social Connectedness Scale-Revised, the Medical Outcomes Study–Social Support Survey and the Zarit Burden Interview. Descriptive statistics, hierarchical multiple regression and mediation analyses were used to examine relationships between variables.
Results Correlation analyses showed higher perceived social support and social connectedness were significantly correlated with lower-reported caregiver burden (p<0.05). The hierarchical regression model showed that both social support and social connectedness were independent predictors of caregiver burden (p<0.001). Social connectedness partially mediated the relationship between social support and caregiver burden.
Conclusions This study provides new evidence that social support buffers the negative effects of burden in caregivers, suggesting these are potentially modifiable factors of caregiver burden. Increased understanding of the factors that contribute to burden among cancer caregivers will inform targeted supportive care strategies to improve psychological health and well-being in this underserved group.
- quality of life
- supportive care
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request.
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Presented at Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood VIC 3125.
Contributors EY, CW and AH conceived the idea and oversaw the study planning and design. PML, VMW and VM contributed to the study design. EY and VM oversaw data collection. EY conducted data analysis, interpretation and manuscript development. CW, AH, PML and VMW provided input into interpretation of the findings. All authors provided feedback on the manuscript. EY is the guarantor for the manuscript.
Funding This project was funded by a Deakin University Executive Dean Health Research Fellowship.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.