Functional impairments and caregiver depressive symptoms in the context of brain tumour and other cancers: A mediating effect of strain

T. Ownsworth, L. Henderson, S. Chambers, Ho Keung David Shum

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to examine the associations among functional impairments, strain and depressive symptoms for caregivers of individuals with brain tumour and other cancers. Sixty-three caregivers (71% female) of individuals with brain tumour (n = 27) and other cancers (n = 36) were recruited from community services. Participants rated their level of depressive symptoms and strain and the functional impairments of the individual with cancer. Overall, approximately 25% of the total caregiver sample was in the clinical range for depressive symptoms. For care-givers of individuals with brain tumour, strain was significantly related to depressive symptoms (r = .57) and the individual's functional impairments (r = -.58); however, level of depressive symptoms was not significantly related to functional impairments (p > .05). For caregivers of individuals with other cancer, level of depressive symptoms was significantly correlated with strain (r = .50) and their relatives' degree of cognitive, interpersonal and emotional difficulties (r = -.36-.46), but not with activities of daily living (p > .05). In a multivariate analysis involving all the caregivers, strain predicted depressive symptoms (R2 = .32, p < .001) after controlling for gender and cancer type. In addition, strain was found to significantly mediate the effects of the interpersonal and emotional difficulties of individuals with cancer on caregiver depressive symptoms. Overall, these findings highlight the need to develop and evaluate strategies for alleviating the role strain associated with supporting individuals with cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-161
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Impairment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain tumour
  • Cancer
  • Caregiver
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Functional impairments
  • Strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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