The quality of life of regional and remote cancer caregivers in Australia

Research Snapshots of Health Systems and Behavioural Research

What is known?

As cancer survival rates continue to increase, so will the demand for care and support from family and friends. However, caregivers can experience significant physical and emotional difficulties while supporting their loved ones with cancer.

Caregivers living in rural Queensland with poorer access to health and support services may be particularly vulnerable. For this reason, it is vital that we measure and address rural cancer caregiver health and well-being.

What is new?

Our study looked at a sample of 241 rural cancer caregivers in Queensland measuring: mental and physical quality of life, chronic illness, caregiver burden and depression, anxiety, and stress.

It was found that almost half of the caregivers in our study suffered from at least one chronic illness themselves. Compared to the average older Australian adult, this group reported significantly lower mental health related quality of life.

The caregivers with chronic illness and those with higher levels of caregiving demands, were more likely to report poorer mental and physical health, such as experiencing depression, anxiety and stress. There was a slightly stronger association in males compared female caregivers.

What does this mean?

It is important that efforts are made to improve rural caregivers’ mental and emotional well-being.

Interventions are recommended to help reduce caregiver burden for caregivers, especially those with chronic conditions.

Future research is needed to identify other contributing factors that lead to poorer health and well-being in this group.

Contact: Belinda Goodwin

Reference:  Goodwin BC, Crawford-Williams F, Ireland M, March S, Chambers SK, Aitken JF, Dunn J. The quality of life of regional and remote cancer caregivers in Australia. European Journal of Cancer Care. 2022. doi: 10.1111/ecc.13587:e13587.

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