Experiences, needs and coping strategies of women caring for husbands with cancer at the cancer diseases hospital in Lusaka, Zambia.

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Mbozi, Patience
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The University of Zambia
Background: Cancer does not only affect the patient alone but also affects the entire family in all dimensions. The number of men with cancer at the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) has almost doubled from 581 (2015) to 1126 (2019). In general, their wives care for these men. The CDH offers free treatment (such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy), but patients pay for laboratory and diagnostic investigations. The study aimed to assess the needs and explore the experiences and coping strategies of women caring for their husbands with cancer attending the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Lusaka. Methods: A concurrent convergent-mixed methods design using analytical cross-sectional survey and descriptive phenomenological qualitative approach was used. Stratified random sampling was used quantitatively and stratified purposeful sampling qualitatively. Data were collected using a 27 ITEM Needs Assessment of Family Caregivers- Cancer (NAFC-C) tool and the interview schedule and analyzed using SPSS version 23 and STATA version 17 and qualitatively, qualitative thematic analysis. Chi-square test and Ordinal Logistic regression test was used to test for significant associations among variables. The sample size of 211 participants were recruited quantitatively and 20 participants qualitatively. Results: The needs include financial, physical, psychological, emotional, social, communication and health care needs. Women’s financial resources directly impacted their husbands’ care. When four specific needs were met, the women’s emotional distress was low. Wives’ challenges included mobility difficulties and hospital admissions/problems; socio-economic problems, psychological and emotional distress; caregiving liability and spiritual anguish. Benefits included knowledge about cancer and infection prevention, a strong marital relationship, tolerance and perseverance, resilience and hope. Coping strategies included; spiritual support from spiritual carers, prayer and meditation, music and storytelling, social support and a good marital relationship. Conclusion: The findings demonstrate that wives of patients with cancer experience many challenges in their caring journey. Nurses must anticipate and/or intervene to in their nursing practice to reduce their negative impact and put both the patients and their caregivers at the center of the oncology nursing care.
Thesis of Master of Science in Clinical Nursing.