Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Mary L. Gutierrez


Social support and acute care facility providers need information about how to help improve the practices and knowledge of caregivers related to the stages of palliative care. The purpose of this study was to examine whether there was a significant association between social support and psychological distress and behavioral outcomes among palliative care caregivers, and to determine to what extent social support buffered psychological distress and behavioral outcomes. The quality-of-life model guided the study. The study used a quantitative cross-sectional research design with secondary data analyses. The sample included 320 adult family caregivers who were part of a telephone survey on caregiver burden collected in 2000 representing the U.S. population. The independent variable was social support (caregivers' awareness of resources and receipt of direct support) and the dependent variables were psychological distress (anxiety, stress, and depression) and behavioral outcomes (sleep deprivation and patient abuse). Caregivers' receipt of direct social support significantly predicted reduction of psychological distress: anxiety (OR = .434, p < .001), stress (OR = .603, p < .041), and depression (OR = .464, p < .013). Social support was not a predictor of behavioral outcomes. The positive social change implications of this study include use of findings by healthcare providers and social service agents to formulate services to aid caregivers in reducing the burden of negative behavioral outcomes and improve quality of life of caregivers and their families.