Exercise Medicine Research Institute
Objective: As cancer survival rates continue to increase, so will the demand for care from family and friends, particularly in more isolated settings. This study aims to examine the needs of cancer caregivers in regional and remote Australia. Methods: A total of 239 informal (i.e., non-professional) cancer caregivers (e.g., family/friends) from regional and remote Queensland, Australia, completed the Comprehensive Needs Assessment Tool for Cancer Caregivers (CNAT-C). The frequencies of individuals reporting specific needs were calculated. Logistic regression analyses assessed the association between unmet needs and demographic characteristics and cancer type. Results: The most frequently endorsed needs were lodging near hospital (77%), information about the disease (74%), and tests and treatment (74%). The most frequent unmet needs were treatment near home (37%), help with economic burden (32%), and concerns about the person being cared for (32%). Younger and female caregivers were significantly more likely to report unmet needs overall (OR = 2.12; OR = 0.58), and unmet healthcare staff needs (OR = 0.35; OR = 1.99, respectively). Unmet family and social support needs were also significantly more likely among younger caregivers (OR = 0.35). Caregivers of breast cancer patients (OR = 0.43) and older caregivers (OR = 0.53) were significantly less likely to report unmet health and psychology needs. Proportions of participants reporting needs were largely similar across demographic groups and cancer type with some exceptions. Conclusions: Caregiver health, practical issues associated with travel, and emotional strain are all areas where regional and remote caregivers require more support. Caregivers’ age and gender, time since diagnosis and patient cancer type should be considered when determining the most appropriate supportive care.
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