Recognizing the value and needs of the caregiver in oncology

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

19 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: This article reviews recent studies (published in 2010 and 2011) dealing with cancer caregivers' needs. The studies are organized by the phase of the illness trajectory studied and the association with demographic characteristics and quality-of-life outcomes. Recent findings: The findings indicate that the major issues faced were: caregivers' needs for managing the psychological concerns of the patient as well as their own concerns, managing the patients' medical symptoms and side effects, and obtaining help with daily tasks. These needs vary across the patient's illness trajectory. Although fairly consistently mentioned during the end-of-life and bereavement phases, spiritual concerns caregivers are facing in cancer care were not systematically documented in other phases of survivorship. The caregivers' needs were often not satisfactorily met. Caregivers who are younger and lack social resources appear to report greater unmet needs and poorer quality of life. Caregivers' unmet needs are strong and consistent predictors of poor mental health. Summary: The findings suggest that programs must be developed for caregivers who are younger and lack social resources and who report greater unmet needs and poorer quality of life. Also, future efforts need to include longitudinal studies that bridge survivorship and bereavement phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-288
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012



  • Caregivers' needs
  • Illness trajectory
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Oncology(nursing)

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