Original Research

The social burden experienced by families caring for members living with cancer in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Phindile C. Mlaba, Themba G. Ginindza, Khumbulani W. Hlongwana
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 13, No 1 | a2955 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v13i1.2955 | © 2021 Phindile C Mlaba, Themba G Ginindza, Khumbulani W Hlongwana | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2021 | Published: 25 October 2021

About the author(s)

Phindile C. Mlaba, Department of Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Themba G. Ginindza, Department of Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Khumbulani W. Hlongwana, Department of Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Cancer is a global public health problem and it affects people in different ways. Family caregivers (FCs) play an essential role in caring for patients with cancer, and thus, they experience many caregiver burdens that go unnoticed.

Aim: This research study explored the social burden that families experience in providing care to their family members living with cancer.

Setting: This study was conducted in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, cities located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Methods: This was a qualitative study using the interpretative phenomenological approach that was ideal for understanding FCs subjective perspectives on their cancer caregiving experience. Data saturation were reached at 20 in-depth interviews.

Results: Two major themes culminated from the data analysis; dynamics of a cancer diagnosis and psychosocial impact of a cancer diagnosis with respective sub-themes. Themes centred around the relational impact of a cancer diagnosis with FCs experiencing a shift in this dynamic and a disturbance to normality in social life. Social support systems were found to play a meaningful role in mitigating the impact of a cancer diagnosis with financial, psychosocial and educational support considered essential needs.

Conclusion: Cancer caregiving is a challenging task that also presents opportunities for strengthening family bonds as they evolve in new paths. A family-centred care approach is recommended as a form of social support with further collaboration with health care providers for guided patient care. If the needs of FCs are addressed accordingly through health care policies and interventions, FCs may be able to provide better care and support for their family members with cancer and thus positively impact cancer survivorship.


Keywords

cancer; family caregiver; social burden; support; experience; KwaZulu-Natal

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