Physical and mental health trajectories of cancer patients and caregivers across the year post-diagnosis: a dyadic investigation

Kelly M. Shaffer, Youngmee Kim, Charles S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Evidence suggests interdependence between cancer patients’ and their caregivers’ physical and mental health. However, the extent to which caregivers’ health relates to their patients’ recovery, or patients’ health affects their caregivers’ outcomes, is largely unknown. This dyadic investigation reports the relations between cancer patients’ and their caregivers’ physical and mental health trajectories during the year following diagnosis. Design: Ninety-two colorectal cancer patient–caregiver dyads completed questionnaires at 2, 6 and 12 months post-diagnosis. Outcome measures: Self-reported physical and mental health using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey-12. Results: Patients reported improved physical health over the year following their diagnosis, whereas caregivers reported declining physical health. Patients with lower mental health at diagnosis had stagnated physical health recovery. Caregivers’ physical health declined most noticeably among those reporting low mental health at diagnosis and whose patients reported low physical health at diagnosis. Conclusion: Findings suggest targeting health interventions to cancer patients and caregivers reporting poor mental health at diagnosis may mitigate their long-term physical morbidity. Limited evidence of dyadic interdependence between patients’ and caregivers’ physical and mental health trajectories suggests future studies are warranted to identify psychosocial and medical characteristics moderating the relations between patients’ and caregivers’ health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-674
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume31
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2 2016

Keywords

  • actor partner interdependence model
  • cancer
  • caregiving
  • latent growth model
  • mental health
  • physical health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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