Walking a mile in their shoes: anxiety and depression among partners and caregivers of cancer survivors at 6 and 12 months post-diagnosis
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This study aims to examine the prevalence of psychosocial variables associated with anxiety and depression among partners and caregivers of cancer survivors, compare prevalence with community norms and report differences across cancer diagnosis.
A prospective survey of partners and caregivers was undertaken to assess anxiety and depression and potential psychosocial variables associated with these outcomes at 6 and 12 months post-survivor diagnosis (N = 436).
Although the proportion of anxious participants decreased over time (p = 0.01), the percentage of those depressed remained stable (p = 0.68). Most participants who were depressed were also anxious. To a certain extent, the prevalence of anxiety and depression exceeded community norms and varied across cancer types. Partners and caregivers particularly vulnerable included those of lung, haematological or head and neck survivors. High use of avoidant coping and interference in regular activities were associated with both anxiety and depression across time points. Of the different types of support measured, only lower emotional/informational support was associated with anxiety and depression at 6 months, whereas lower positive social interaction was associated with depression at 12 months. Additional variables associated with anxiety and depression at 12 months included higher unmet needs and involvement in personal and medical tasks, respectively.
Even at 12 months post-survivor diagnosis, almost a third of participants reported anxiety, a result partially predicted by high use of avoidant coping and interference in regular activities. Understanding variables associated with partners’ and caregivers’ anxiety and depression can lead to optimal referral to supportive care services and inform the tailoring of interventions to address those variables contributing to anxiety and depression at particular time points.
KeywordsAnxiety Depression Caregivers Coping Social support Caregiving burden
This study was funded by the Cancer Council NSW and received infrastructure support from the Honda Foundation and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI). Also, Dr. Lambert was supported initially by an HMRI Post-Doctoral Fellowship and then a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Training Fellowship. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Cancer Council. We are grateful to Sandra Dowley, Alexander Cameron and Raelene Monahan for their support of the Partners and Caregivers Study.
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