Family perspectives of ovarian cancer

Betty Ferrell, Kate Ervin, Stephany Smith, Thais Marek, Cindy Melancon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: This qualitative study explored quality of life (QOL) in family caregivers of ovarian cancer patients to better define their needs for support. DESCRIPTION OF STUDY: One thousand one hundred pieces of correspondence written by family caregivers of ovarian cancer patients were contributed to the City of Hope investigators by the founder and editor of Conversations!: The International Newsletter for Those Fighting Ovarian Cancer. The investigators analyzed meaningful comments in the letters using content analysis methods. RESULTS: Comments by family caregivers reflected little concern for their own physical well-being and, instead, focused on the psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of their experiences. Correspondence on the psychological effects of caregiving demonstrated poor QOL stemming from feelings of lack of control and helplessness. Social data showed that family caregivers lacked support, were given to feelings of isolation, and experienced considerable anxiety regarding the genetic nature of the disease. Spiritual well-being was particularly important to caregivers, as they drew strength from their faith and were able to find positive meaning in their experiences. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The study findings revealed that caregivers require additional support from the healthcare community, especially to address disease-specific needs in patients with ovarian cancer. The correspondence demonstrates a need in family caregivers to connect with others fighting the same disease. This study also identifies the need for support for at-risk women, as well as a continuing need for palliative-care services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-276
Number of pages8
JournalCancer practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Caregiver
  • Family caregiving
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Oncology


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