Objective: Informal caregivers of palliative care patients play an essential role in the coordination of care for patients during their final phases of life. However, undertaking a caregiving role can have enduring psychological consequences for caregivers and interfere with functioning. Studies have investigated a variety of factors associated with individual differences in caregiver psychosocial outcomes, but little is known about their relative impact, and there is a need for guiding models to support research in this area.
Method: A review of the literature was conducted on factors influencing the psychological distress and grief of caregivers. Drawing from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and Stroebe and colleagues' integrative risk factor framework, we developed a process model to describe individual differences in caregiver psychological distress and grief.
Results: The model presents caregiver psychological distress and grief as functions of death attitudes and communication about death and dying, mediated by acceptance and valued living from an ACT perspective. An outline of the empirical and theoretical underpinnings for each component in the model is provided.
Significant of results: The presented model is an inherently strengths-based model that is concordant with acceptance- and values- (ACT) based interventions to facilitate coping in caregivers.