Impact of cancer patients’ quality of life on that of spouse caregivers

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Goals of work

This study aimed to examine the correlation between quality of life (QOL) in cancer patients and that of their spouse caregivers and to identify factors that influence this correlation.

Patients and methods

This cross-sectional study collected data from 121 cancer patient/spouse caregiver dyads. The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy Scale-General (FACT-G) was used to measure patients’ QOL, and the Caregiver Quality of Life Index (CQLI) was used to measure spouse caregivers’ QOL. Correlation coefficients between patients’ and caregivers’ QOL were computed for four dimensions of QOL, as well as a total score for QOL. Correlations between patients’ and caregivers’ total QOL scores were furthered analyzed by three groups of factors: disease-/treatment-related, caregiving-related, and relationship-related variables.

Main results

Only the social/family and functional dimensions of patient QOL and total score for patient QOL were associated with each dimension of their caregivers’ QOL and with the total score (r=0.27–0.44). Physical and emotional dimensions of patients’ QOL did not significantly influence spouse caregivers’ QOL for any dimension nor for the total score. Factors influencing the association between patients’ and caregivers’ overall QOL included cancer diagnosis, length of hospitalization, caregiving intensity and duration, marital satisfaction, and caregiving self-esteem.


Social and functional aspects of patients’ QOL play a significant role in determining the QOL of their spouse caregivers. The strength of association between patients’ and spouse caregivers’ overall QOL can be moderated by some factors.

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This study was supported by a grant to Dr. Mei-Ling Chen from Chang Gung University (Grant number: CMRP1238). The authors thank all the study participants for sharing their experiences. The authors also thank Ms. Claire Baldwin for her help with editing this paper.

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Correspondence to Mei-Ling Chen.

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Chen, M., Chu, L. & Chen, H. Impact of cancer patients’ quality of life on that of spouse caregivers. Support Care Cancer 12, 469–475 (2004) doi:10.1007/s00520-004-0636-z

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  • Quality of life
  • Cancer patients
  • Spouse caregivers
  • Moderators
  • Taiwan