Research Article| Volume 62, 102264, February 2023

Caregiving Strain, family functioning, and effort to change diet for patients with gastrointestinal cancer: A cross-sectional descriptive study

  • Myung Kyung Lee
    College of Nursing, Research Institute of Nursing Science, 41944, 680 Gukchabosangro, Jung-gu, Daegu, South Korea.
    College of Nursing, Research Institute of Nursing Science, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea
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Published:December 27, 2022DOI:


      • Family caregivers' efforts to change diet for patients with cancer was associated with higher family functioning and lower caregiving strain.
      • Such efforts were also associated with the marriage, healthcare problems, more caregiving time, and caregiving by a family member other than a son.
      • Strategically, family functioning and strain should be considered as modification factors and general family characteristics as tailoring factors for developing dietary interventions in families with cancer.



      Among patients with cancer, it has been found that the family system influences health-related behaviors and may promote a healthy diet. This study assessed the associations among cancer patients between family caregiver strain, family functioning, and efforts to change diet.


      This cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in gastrointestinal outpatient units at two tertiary university hospitals in South Korea. This study included 401 main family caregivers of patients with gastrointestinal cancer. The caregivers were evaluated using structured, face-to-face questionnaires measuring family strain, family functioning, and effort to change diet.


      Greater effort to change diet was associated with higher family functioning, having a spouse, and more caregiving time per week. Less effort to change diet was associated with greater levels of caregiving strain and with a son providing caregiving.


      The efforts of family caregivers to alter diet are influenced by family strain and family functioning, as well as family caregivers’ characteristics, such as marital status, health problems due to caregiving, care time and duration, and relationship with the patient. This study suggested that reducing family strain and improving family functioning in clinical settings facilitate the success to change dietary strategies for cancer families.


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