Implementing a Clinic-Based Telehealth Support Service (FamilyStrong) for Family Caregivers of Individuals with Grade IV Brain Tumors

Academic Article


  • Background: Nearly 3 million U.S. family caregivers support someone with cancer. However, oncology clinic-based service lines that proactively screen, assess, and support cancer caregivers are nearly nonexistent. Objective: To examine first-year experiences of a nurse-led clinic-based telehealth support service (FamilyStrong) for family caregivers of patients with recently diagnosed grade IV brain tumors. Methods: This is a retrospective evaluation of operational outcomes from initial implementation of the FamilyStrong Service, developed in partnership with Caregiver and Bereavement Support Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. From August 2018 to December 2019, 53 family caregivers were proactively identified and enrolled by a palliative care nurse, working approximately one day/week, who performed monthly caregiver distress thermometer screenings by phone and provided emotional, educational, problem-solving, and referral support. Results: Enrolled family caregivers were a mean age of 53.5 years and mostly female (62.3%), full- or part-time employed (67.9%), and the patient's spouse/partner (79.3%). Caregivers provided support 6.7 days/week for 11.2 hours/day. The palliative care nurse performed 235 distress screenings and provided support that included 68 documented instances of emotional, problem-solving, and educational support, 41 nurse-facilitated communications with the neuro-oncology team about patient issues, and 24 referrals to UAB and community services (e.g., counseling). The most common problems caregivers wanted assistance with included: managing their relative's health condition and symptoms (51%), coordinating care/services (21%), and planning for the future/advance care planning (17%). Discussion: The FamilyStrong Program is among the first "real world"oncology clinic-based formal support services for advance cancer family caregivers.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Dionne-Odom JN; Williams GR; Warren PP; Tims S; Huang CHS; Taylor RA; Ledbetter L; Lever T; Mitchell K; Thompson M
  • Start Page

  • 347
  • End Page

  • 353
  • Volume

  • 24
  • Issue

  • 3