Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 699–706 | Cite as

Impact of caregivers’ unmet needs for supportive care on quality of terminal cancer care delivered and caregiver’s workforce performance

  • Sang Min Park
  • Young Jin Kim
  • Samyong Kim
  • Jong Soo Choi
  • Ho-Yeong Lim
  • Youn Seon Choi
  • Young Seon Hong
  • Si-Young Kim
  • Dae Seog Heo
  • Ki Moon Kang
  • Hyun Sik Jeong
  • Chang Geol Lee
  • Do Ho Moon
  • Jin-Young Choi
  • In Sik Kong
  • Young Ho Yun
Original Article


Goals of work

Family caregivers play an important role in caring for cancer patients, but the impact of caregivers’ unmet needs on the quality of end-of-life (EOL) care they deliver and on their workplace performance are less understood.

Patients and methods

We identified 1,662 family caregivers of cancer patients who had died at any of 17 hospitals in Korea during 2004. The caregivers answered a telephone questionnaire about needs that were not met when they delivered terminal cancer care and how those unmet their needs affected their workplace performance; they also answered the Quality Care Questionnaire-End of Life (QCQ-EOL).


Compared with caregivers who did not have unmet needs, caregivers who had unmet needs for symptom management, financial support, or community support showed poorer QCQ-EOL scores (P < 0.01). Caregivers who had unmet needs for financial support (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 7.55; 95% confidential interval (CI) 3.80–15.00), psychosocial support (aOR = 6.24; 95% CI 2.95–13.05), symptom management (aOR = 3.21; 95% CI 2.26–4.54), community support (aOR = 3.82; 95% CI 2.38–6.11), or religious support (aOR = 4.55; 95% CI 1.84–11.26) were more likely to experience work limitations. Caregivers of patients receiving conventional hospital care were more likely to have unmet needs for symptom management (aOR = 1.21; 95% CI 1.00–1.47), psychosocial support (aOR = 1.99; 95% CI 1.37–2.88), and religious support (aOR = 1.73; 95% CI 1.08–2.78) than those of patients receiving palliative hospice care.


Caregivers’ unmet needs negatively affected both the quality of EOL care they delivered and their workplace performance. More investment in caregiver support and public policies that meet caregiver needs are needed, and hospice use should be encouraged.


Caregivers Terminal cancer care Workforce performance Unmet need 



This work was supported partially by the 2005 Korean National Cancer Control Program by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea, partially by Grant No. 0710730-1 from the National Cancer Center, Korea, and partially by Takemi program in international health at Harvard School of Public Health. We thank Michael R. Reich and Marc Mitchell for their cooperation and assistance.

Potential financial conflicts of interest

None disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sang Min Park
    • 1
    • 2
    • 15
  • Young Jin Kim
    • 1
  • Samyong Kim
    • 3
  • Jong Soo Choi
    • 4
  • Ho-Yeong Lim
    • 5
  • Youn Seon Choi
    • 6
  • Young Seon Hong
    • 7
  • Si-Young Kim
    • 8
  • Dae Seog Heo
    • 9
  • Ki Moon Kang
    • 10
  • Hyun Sik Jeong
    • 11
  • Chang Geol Lee
    • 12
  • Do Ho Moon
    • 13
  • Jin-Young Choi
    • 1
  • In Sik Kong
    • 14
  • Young Ho Yun
    • 1
    • 16
  1. 1.National Cancer Control Research Institute and HospitalNational Cancer CenterGoyangSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Population and International HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineChungnam University HospitalDaejeonSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of Internal Medicine, College of MedicineUlsan UniversityUlsanSouth Korea
  5. 5.Division of Hematology/Oncology, Samsung Medical Center, School of MedicineSungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  6. 6.Department of Family Medicine, College of MedicineKorea UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  7. 7.Department of Medicine, Kangnam St. Mary’s HospitalThe Catholic University of KoreaSeoulSouth Korea
  8. 8.Department of Internal MedicineKyunghee University HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  9. 9.Cancer Research Institute, College of MedicineSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  10. 10.Department of Internal MedicineGyeong Sang National University HospitalJinjuSouth Korea
  11. 11.Department of Internal Medicine, Sunlin HospitalHandong UniversityPohangSouth Korea
  12. 12.Department of Radiation Oncology, College of MedicineYonsei UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  13. 13.Department of Internal MedicineSam Anyang HospitalAnyangSouth Korea
  14. 14.Ministry of Health and WelfareSeoulSouth Korea
  15. 15.Department of Family Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, College of MedicineSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  16. 16.Division of Cancer Control, National Cancer Control Research InstituteNational Cancer CenterGoyang-siSouth Korea

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