Family caregivers' sleep loss and depression over time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Depression is a normal response when a family member receives a diagnosis of cancer. However, this response may be exacerbated by other factors such as chronic sleep loss that are amenable to intervention. This pilot study described caregiver sleep and depression patterns over time and explored the feasibility of data collection methods and instruments. The stress and coping framework of Lazarus and Folkman guided this study. A descriptive correlational design was used for this 10-week pilot study. Ten adult family caregivers of patients with cancer were recruited from outpatient oncology clinics. Sleep quality and depression were measured weekly. Actigraphs were worn for 72 hours during weeks 1, 5, and 10. Individual sleep quality and depression scores were generated. Actigraph latency, duration, and efficiency scores were generated. Actigraph and sleep quality scores were compared. Individual caregiver sleep and depression plots show large variance over time. Discrepancies were noted between Actigraph and sleep quality latency, duration, and efficiency scores. Sleep and depressive symptoms fluctuate widely over time. Therefore, accurate assessment and treatment of caregiver problems require repeated assessments. Self-reports of sleep and depression appear to underestimate problems and must be evaluated carefully within this context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-259
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Caregivers
  • Depression
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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