Dyadic effects of fear of recurrence on the quality of life of cancer survivors and their caregivers
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Although the 5 years cancer survival rate has increased to 66%, fear of cancer recurrence (FOR) continues to be a major concern for both cancer survivors and their family caregivers. It remains unknown, however, to what extent cancer severity is associated with the level of FOR reported by each individual in the survivor–caregiver dyad, which, in turn, is also associated with their quality of life (QOL).
A total of 455 cancer survivor–caregiver dyads, who participated in national surveys targeting 2 years post-diagnosis, provided complete data for variables studied.
Results of the Actor Partner Interdependence Model suggested that higher cancer severity was related to greater levels of FOR among both survivors and caregivers, which, in turn, was related to poorer QOL. Caregivers’ FOR was related to survivors’ poorer physical health. The associations between FOR and QOL were significant, above and beyond those of general anxiety.
Findings suggest that as expected, cancer severity was significantly related to individuals’ FOR, which, in turn, played a key role in their mental health. Caregivers’ FOR was also related to survivors’ physical health, which suggests that programs aimed to manage FOR effectively should be provided not only to survivors but also caregivers, thereby improving the QOL of each person.