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Clinical practice guidelines

The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s clinical practice guidelines on palliative recommends that nurses, social workers, or other providers may initiate caregiver-tailored palliative care support for family or friend caregivers providing care at home or outside a health facility to people with cancer at any stage.

Distress among cancer caregivers

Emotional distress among caregivers is common.1Geng HM, Chuang DM et al. Prevalence and determinants of depression in caregivers of cancer patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Sep;97(39):e11863; van Warmerdam J, Zabih V et al. Prevalence of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder in parents of children with cancer: a meta-analysis. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2019 Jun;66(6):e27677. Both caregivers and their loved ones with cancer benefit from paired psychosocial interventions targeting self-care and interpersonal connections of caregivers and symptom management of patients.2Fu F, Zhao H, Tong F, Chi I. A systematic review of psychosocial interventions to cancer caregivers. Frontiers in Psychology. 2017 May 23;8:834.

Caregivers can benefit from interventions that enhance their ability to accept their situation and find meaning in their caregiving experience. This may improve their satisfaction with life and reduce their depressive symptoms.3Kim Y, Schulz R, Carver CS. Benefit-finding in the cancer caregiving experience. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2007 Apr;69(3):283-91. Interventions designed to help caregivers manage their own emotional distress as well as the survivors’ distress can help them find meaning in the cancer caregiving experience and foster supportive familial relationships that will benefit the caregivers quality of life, not only during the time of diagnosis and treatment, but for years afterward.4Kim Y, Kashy DA, Spillers RL, Evans TV. Needs assessment of family caregivers of cancer survivors: three cohorts comparison. Psychooncology. 2010 Jun;19(6):573-82.

Helpful links for professionals

Practical and therapeutic support for caregivers

Dalton J, Thomas S, Harden M, Eastwood A, Parker G. Updated meta-review of evidence on support for carers. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy. 2018 Jul;23(3):196-207.

Sheng N, Ma J, Ding W, Zhang Y. Effects of caregiver-involved interventions on the quality of life of children and adolescents with chronic conditions and their caregivers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Quality of Life Research. 2019 Jan;28(1):13-33.

Tang WP, Chan CW, Leung DP, Chan DS. The effects of psychoeducational interventions on caregivers of children with cancer: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Child Health Care. 2020 Mar;24(1):123-142.

Taylor C. Supporting the carers of individuals affected by colorectal cancer. British Journal of Nursing. 2008 Feb 28-Mar 12;17(4):226-30.

Young J, Snowden A. A systematic review on the factors associated with positive experiences in carers of someone with cancer. European Journal of Cancer Care. 2017 May;26(3).

Langenberg SMCH, van Herpen CML et al. Caregivers’ burden and fatigue during and after patients’ treatment with concomitant chemoradiotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer: a prospective, observational pilot study. Support Care Cancer. 2019 Nov;27(11):4145-4154.

Journal articles

Lopez G, Chaoul A et al. A pragmatic evaluation of symptom distress after group meditation for cancer patients and caregivers: a preliminary report. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 2018 May;55(5):1321-1326.e1.

Kang SG, Song SW et al. Fatigue and mental status of caregivers of severely chronically ill patients. Pain Research and Management. 2020 Sep 7;2020:6372857.

Clark MM, Atherton PJ et al. Caregivers of patients with cancer fatigue: a high level of symptom burden. American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care. 2014 Mar;31(2):121-5. 

Jensen S, Given B. Fatigue affecting family caregivers of cancer patients. Support Care Cancer. 1993 Nov;1(6):321-5.

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Authors

Maria Williams

Research and Communications Consultant
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Maria Williams is a research and communications consultant who brings over 15 years’ experience in research, consumer education, and science communication to CancerChoices. She has worked primarily in public health and environmental health.

Maria Williams Research and Communications Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

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Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: October 20, 2023

Last full resource review: March 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

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