Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp 1429–1436 | Cite as

Relationship quality and burden among caregivers for late-stage cancer patients

  • Linda E. Francis
  • Julie Worthington
  • Georgios Kypriotakis
  • Julia H. Rose
Original Article



This study explores how caregiver relationship quality with family, patient, and patient’s health care provider (HCP) is associated with subjective caregiver burden during the early treatment phase for late-stage cancer.


Burden and relationship quality were assessed in telephone interviews with family caregivers (FCGs) of advanced cancer patients. The five subscales of the Caregiver Reaction Assessment measured burden, while relationships were measured with the Family Relationship Index, the Family Inventory of Needs subscale of met needs, and a scale assessing family discord in cancer communication.


Multiple linear regression analyses in SPSS (v16) of 420 FCGs showed that higher quality relationship with family was associated with lower burden in FCG abandonment, health, scheduling (p < 0.001) and finances (p < 0.01). Higher quality relationship with patients’ HCPs was associated with lower burden in FCG abandonment (p < 0.05), health, and finances (p < 0.001). More discordant communication in patient relationship was associated with lower financial burden (p < 0.05). Relationship quality was not associated with caregiver self-esteem.


Findings demonstrate that caregiver relationship quality with family and with HCP are important factors in understanding caregiver burden during the early treatment phase of late-stage cancer care.


Caregiving Caregiver burden Relationship quality Cancer Provider–caregiver relationship Family–caregiver relationship 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda E. Francis
    • 1
  • Julie Worthington
    • 4
  • Georgios Kypriotakis
    • 2
  • Julia H. Rose
    • 3
  1. 1.CWRU at MetrohealthCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.CWRU at MetrohealthCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  3. 3.CWRU at MetrohealthCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biostatistics and EpidemiologyEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

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