A Descriptive Study of Spousal Caregiver Fatigue

Date of Graduation

Fall 2007


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Susan Hinck


Elderly adults diagnosed with cancer often rely on primary caregivers for assistance at home. Providing long term care has led elderly spousal caregivers to become physically and emotionally fatigued. The purpose of this study was to describe fatigue among elderly spousal caregivers over the age of 65 years. The Multidimensional Assessment of Fatigue Scale (MAF) was sent to 25 spousal caregivers five days following the care recipients’ hospital discharge to measure their fatigue levels. Completed MAF scales were returned by 20 spousal caregivers (45% male, n=9; 55% female, n=11; age M=74 years, range 65-82, S.D. 5.65). Care recipients (55% male, n=11; 45% female, n=9; age M=74 years, range 65-83, S.D. 5.84) varied in type of caner (leukemia=50%, n=10; lung=15%, n=3; gastric=15%, n=3; lymphoma=5%, n=1; breast 5%, n=1; skin=5%, n=1). Most spousal caregivers (60%, n=12) reported that their spouses were dependent on them some of the time. Hospital admissions in the past year of care recipients ranged from 1 to 10, with 3 admitted 7 or more times. Global Fatigue Index (GFI) scores (possible range from 0 to 50) were calculated for the MAF. Caregivers’ GFI scores ranged from 10.88 to 29.04 (M=21.77, S.D. 5.67. Implications for the research are to increase awareness among nurses, physicians, and elderly spousal caregivers.


caregiver, fatigue, spouse, care recipient, cancer

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