Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC), Victoria

Information needs are associated with anxiety and depression in caregivers of renal cell survivors

Cancer caregivers often experience unmet supportive care needs and higher rates of psychological and physical morbidity than the general population. Most studies exploring caregivers’ unmet needs have focused on more common cancers such as lung and colorectal, which often involve complex treatments and longer caregiving periods. Renal cell carcinoma, a relatively less common cancer, is mostly diagnosed at an early stage, and involves less complex treatments with relatively shorter caregiving periods. However, it is unclear whether the caregivers of renal cell carcinoma survivors have the same level of unmet needs as caregivers of other cancer survivors and how these needs impact on their psychological distress. In a study funded by the Victorian Cancer Agency, Dr Devesh Oberoi, A/Prof Vicki White and colleagues examined the association between unmet needs and psychological distress among 196 renal cell carcinoma caregivers in Victoria who participated in a telephone interview. Sixty-four percent of caregivers had at least one unmet need and 29% reported 10 or more unmet needs. Elevated anxiety and depression were found in 29% and 11% of the sample respectively, on par with levels found for caregivers of more common cancers. Unmet information needs were associated with 1.6 and two times higher odds of elevated anxiety and depression respectively. Findings suggest that improving the provision of information to renal cell carcinoma caregivers by health professionals may help to reduce caregivers’ unmet needs and psychological distress. This paper is published in Supportive Care in Cancer.

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