A documentary film about the experience of family caregivers of patients with brain tumors, viewed by neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, neurosurgery residents, medical students, and non-physician clinicians, was well-received and reported to be important, relevant, and useful. Viewers thought that the film was an effective way to teach about family caregivers and that all clinicians caring for brain tumor patients should see the film.
At baseline, medical students and neurosurgery residents attributed less significance to family caregiving than did their seniors. It appears that over time, clinical and perhaps life experience affect how clinicians understand the role of family caregivers and their own role in supporting them.
Given the power of the stories told, it is not surprising that viewers came away with stronger beliefs that “all families of patients with brain cancers should meet with a social worker” and that “family caregivers greatly impact the health of patients.” Viewers were more likely to disagree that “supporting family caregivers is primarily someone else's job.”
These pilot data should be viewed only as suggestive. The relatively small study sample was self-selected, there was no control group, the clinical significance of the statically significant findings has not been validated, and the duration of demonstrated changes in attitude is unknown. Nevertheless, viewing a documentary film about family caregivers affords clinicians a perspective on the experiences of family caregivers that complements the clinicians’ formal curriculum and clinical work. Although the data from this study are preliminary, there is reason to believe that viewing “The Caregivers” is a useful education intervention for increasing awareness of the role of the family caregiver, especially when combined with ongoing discussion and positive role modeling around the themes explored in the film.
Copies of the film and a facilitator's discussion guide to explore issues raised by the film are available (Table ).