Does the cancer patient’s disease stage matter? : a comparative study of caregivers’ mental health and health related quality of life


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Palliative & supportive care;FirstView


Cambridge University Press

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Objective: Cancer affects both patients and their caregivers. Caregiver burden may change during different stages of the patients’ cancer trajectory. Limited research has focused on the impact of being a caregiver, assessed by the caregiver’s mental health and quality of life (QOL) during the curative and the palliative phases of the patient’s disease. The aim of this study is to compare caregivers of cancer patients during the curative and a palliative phases with respect to their mental health and health-related QOL. Method: This descriptive, cross-sectional study combines data from two studies. The first group consists of caregivers of patients with cancer in the late palliative phase and the second group consists of caregivers of outpatients with cancer who suffer from pain and/or use analgesics. Data were collected by means of standardized measures and analyzed with descriptive statistics. Results: Based on this material, no significant differences in mental health and healthrelated QOL were revealed for caregivers of cancer patients in the palliative and the curative phases, respectively. Neither education level in the caregivers, nor the patients’ functional status influenced caregivers’ mental health or QOL. Younger caregivers seem to have better physical QOL. Significance of results: Being caregivers of cancer patients seems to have a similar pattern of impact on caregivers’ mental health and quality of life regardless of the patient’s disease stage. We share some reflections about the way in which the cancer stage is divided and the appropriateness of such selection for measuring caregivers’ mental health and QOL. Additionally, we discuss the use of generic instruments for measuring specific contexts and particular samples.


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