Kathrin Milbury on Caregiver Burden in Spouses

November 23, 2015
Kathrin Milbury, PhD

Kathrin Milbury, PhD, assistant professor of Integrative Medicine Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses caregiver burden in spouses of patients with lung cancer.

Kathrin Milbury, PhD, assistant professor of Integrative Medicine Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses caregiver burden in spouses of patients with lung cancer.

In a small study analyzing 30 patients with advanced lung cancer and their spouses, Milbury found that spouses overestimated the extent to which patients experience symptoms. When the caregiver becomes hyper-vigilant to the needs of the patient, he or she tends to neglect their own medical needs.

Milbury and other researchers developed interventions using a team approach to help patients and caregivers relate to each other. Emotional support, including listening, physical presence, and expressing love, affection, and care, is the most significant source of support in caregiving, Milbury says.

Milbury says that putting patients in an active role as opposed to being the recipient of support will empower them and give them a sense of purpose in their relationship.