Building Family Caregiver Skills Using a Simulation-Based Intervention: A Randomized Pilot Trial

Susan R. Mazanec

Kate Sandstrom

Darlene Coletta

Jennifer Dorth

Chad Zender

Celeste M. Alfes

Barbara J. Daly

family caregivers, experiential learning, simulation, head and neck cancer
ONF 2019, 46(4), 419-427. DOI: 10.1188/19.ONF.419-427

Objectives: To evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, safety, and fidelity of a psychoeducational intervention to improve family caregiver technical and communication skills using structured simulations.

Sample & Setting: 18 family caregivers of adult patients receiving radiation therapy for head and neck cancer at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Methods & Variables: A two-group, randomized pilot trial design was used. The intervention consisted of four one-on-one sessions between the caregiver and nurse interventionist during the patient’s first, second, fourth, and sixth week of radiation treatment. Participants completed measures of self-efficacy for caregiving, anxiety, depression, and health-related quality of life at baseline, during the fifth week of radiation therapy, and four weeks after radiation therapy.

Results: 4 of the 9 caregiver participants completed the intervention. Improvements in scores for the intervention group were noted for self-efficacy, global mental health, anxiety, and depression.

Implications for Nursing: Refinement of the intervention is needed to improve feasibility. Although a caregiver intervention that incorporates simulation for skills training is acceptable and safe, flexibility in protocol is needed.

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