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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: December 2009

16 - Assessing the subjective impact of caregiving on informal caregivers of cancer patients



Cancer and its treatment affect not only the patients who have the disease but also their friends and family members who frequently play an important role in providing care. The impact on these “informal” caregivers is multidimensional, affecting many aspects of their everyday activities and emotional well-being. In many cases, caregivers who are also friends or relatives of patients provide emotional support, as well as assist with physical tasks and participate in the delivery of care. As a consequence, these informal caregivers may experience changes in their own social roles, may experience stress, anxiety and/or depression, or have physical effects. However, there are also positive aspects of providing care to a friend or family member, including satisfaction in caring for a loved one and in giving.

The impact on informal caregivers of caring for sick loved ones is of increasing importance as patients with cancer are living longer, policies are pushing care from the inpatient to the outpatient setting, and patients increasingly are preferring to receive care at home. Consequently, there are growing numbers of informal caregivers who are experiencing both the positive and negative impacts of caregiving. As informal caregivers continue to play an important part in the care of patients with cancer, the health care system needs to ensure that the patient is receiving quality care without undue strain on these individuals — strain that could compromise their ability to provide needed care to patients and which could also threaten their own health and well-being.

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