The interaction between informal cancer caregivers and health care professionals: a survey of caregivers' experiences of problems and unmet needs

Lund, Line; Ross, Lone; Petersen, Morten; Groenvold, Mogens
June 2015
Supportive Care in Cancer;Jun2015, Vol. 23 Issue 6, p1719
Academic Journal
Purpose: In order to meet the caregiving challenges, informal caregivers often need a substantial level of interaction with health care professionals (HCPs). This study investigated to which extent the cancer caregivers' needs regarding the interaction with HCPs are met and the associations between dissatisfaction with the interaction and socio-demographic and disease-related variables. Methods: In a cross-sectional questionnaire study, cancer patients with various diagnoses and disease stages were invited to pass on the 'cancer caregiving tasks, consequences and needs questionnaire' (CaTCoN) to up to three of their caregivers. Results: A total of 590 caregivers (related to 415 (55 %) of 752 eligible patients) participated. Although many caregivers were satisfied, considerable proportions experienced problems or had unmet needs regarding the interaction with HCPs. Prominent problematic aspects included optimal involvement of the caregivers in the patients' disease, treatment and/or care (30 % were dissatisfied), attention to the caregivers' wellbeing (e.g., 51 % of the caregivers reported that HCPs only sometimes or rarely/never had shown interest in how the caregivers had been feeling), and provision of enough information to the caregivers (e.g. 39 % were dissatisfied with the amount of time spent on informing caregivers). The patients' adult children and siblings, younger caregivers and caregivers to younger patients tended to report the highest levels of interaction problems and unmet needs. Conclusions: The caregivers' dissatisfaction with the interaction with HCPs was pronounced. More focus on and involvement of the caregivers, in a way that matches the caregivers' needs, is still warranted.


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