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Quality of life and mental health in family caregivers of patients with terminal cancer

Abstract

Purpose

The burden of serving as a caregiver is known to impair quality of life (QOL) and mental health caregivers of cancer patients. However, few studies focused on the caregivers of terminal cancer patients. Furthermore, none has compared them with those of general population.

Methods

We surveyed the family caregivers of terminal cancer patients who received palliative care services in Korea. Control individuals were selected from participants in the first round of the fourth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and were matched with family caregivers using the propensity score method to optimize our comparative analysis.

Results

Health-related QOL was significantly lower in the caregiver group than in the controls. Caregivers experienced more frequent episodes of depression during the previous year than did controls (36.3% vs. 12.4%, P < 0.0001). Caregiver burden, such as “impact on health,” “financial problems,” and “lack of family support” had a negative influence on the health-related QOL and mental health. However, “disrupted schedule” had a positive influence on the QOL and mental health.

Discussion

Our results show that the family caregivers of patients with terminal cancer experience mental health problems and deterioration of health-related QOL. Culturally appropriate caregiver support programs are needed to decrease the impact of caregiving on the QOL and mental health of family caregivers in Korea.

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Conflict of interest

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dong Wook Shin.

Additional information

This work was supported by Grant of the National R&D program for cancer control, No. 0920350.

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Cite this article

Song, J.I., Shin, D.W., Choi, J.Y. et al. Quality of life and mental health in family caregivers of patients with terminal cancer. Support Care Cancer 19, 1519 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-010-0977-8

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Keywords

  • Family caregiver
  • Burden
  • Quality of life
  • Mental health
  • Terminal cancer