Support-seeking by cancer caregivers living in rural Australia

Research Snapshots of Health Systems and Behavioural Research

What is known?

Living outside of a major city presents several challenges to accessing cancer-related support such as greater travel distances, higher costs, and fewer local healthcare services.

This study aimed to investigate the most common sources of support sought by people living in a rural area who are caring for someone with cancer. The study also looked at factors associated with seeking support.

What is new?

In our study of 244 rural cancer caregivers in Queensland, 64% reported seeking support for themselves and 72% reported seeking support for the person they were caring for. The most common sources of support were consulting general practitioners and online resources.

The following factors were associated with seeking support from a greater number of sources:

  • Caregivers with a higher income.
  • Those who reported a higher caregiver burden.
  • Caring for someone with anxiety or depression.
  • Caring for someone who has difficulty completing their usual daily activities.

22% of rural caregivers did not report seeking any form of support. Compared to support-seekers, this group had the highest proportions of caregivers who were male, lower income earners, and were caring for someone in their first year of diagnosis.

What does this mean?

Many rural cancer caregivers seek support for themselves as well as the person they are caring for, most commonly from medical and online sources.

Further work may be needed to reduce caregiver burden and support caregivers who are male, caring for someone recently diagnosed with cancer, and those with lower incomes.

Contact: Lizzy Johnston

Reference: Johnston EA, Goodwin BC, Myers L, March S, Aitken JF, Chambers SK, Dunn J. Support-seeking by cancer caregivers living in rural Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2022. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.13304.

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