The effect of routine training on the self-efficacy of informal caregivers of colorectal cancer patients



Little is known about the degree to which caregiver training as part of routine clinical care influences caregiver self-efficacy. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between training during routine clinical cancer care and self-efficacy among caregivers of colorectal cancer patients.


Caregivers completed a self-administered questionnaire about their experiences with training for specific patient problems and about their task-specific and general caregiving self-efficacy. Associations between training and self-efficacy were examined for each problem using multivariate logistic regression adjusted for caregiver age, race, care burden, education, perception of patient’s health, and patient stage of disease.


Four hundred seventeen caregivers completed the survey (70% response rate), of whom 374 (90%) were female and 284 (68%) were the patient’s spouse/partner. Overall, 77 (38%) reported inadequate training for pain, 80 (38%) for bowel, 121 (48%) for fatigue, 65 (26%) for medication administration, and 101 (40%) for other symptoms. The odds of having low self-efficacy were significantly higher among those with perceptions of inadequate training across the following cancer-related problems: pain 10.10 (3.36, 30.39), bowel 5.04 (1.98, 12.82), fatigue 8.45 (3.22, 22.15), managing medications 9.00 (3.30, 24.51), and other 3.87 (1.68, 8.93).


Caregivers commonly report inadequate training in routine colorectal cancer care. Significant and consistent associations between training adequacy and self-efficacy were found. This study supports the value of training caregivers in common cancer symptoms. Further work on how and when to provide caregiver training to best impact self-efficacy is needed.

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  • 15 December 2018

    The “NCI Grant No. 5R25CA116339, Outcomes Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health” is not included in the Funding information. The below is the correct “Funding/Support”.


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Correspondence to Rachel D. Havyer.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


This study was supported by the Interagency Quality of Care Committee, Applied Research Branch, National Cancer Institute (NCI), through an interagency agreement with the Veterans Health Administration and by NCI Grant No. 5R25CA116339, Outcomes Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, and the CTSA Grant Number UL1 TR000135 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of NIH. The authors have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.

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Havyer, R.D., van Ryn, M., Wilson, P.M. et al. The effect of routine training on the self-efficacy of informal caregivers of colorectal cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 25, 1071–1077 (2017).

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  • Cancer
  • Oncology
  • Caregiver
  • Self-efficacy
  • Training