Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 759–766 | Cite as

Caregivers needing care: the unmet needs of the family caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients

  • Maryam Hashemi
  • Alireza IrajpourEmail author
  • Fariba Taleghani
Original Article



Family caregivers play a significant role in the care of cancer patients, especially in their end of life. Identifying and meeting the needs of these caregivers is essential to improving their quality of patient care. This study was conducted to identify the unmet needs of the caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients.


A total of 18 semi-structured interviews were held with the family caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients using purposive sampling. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative content analysis.


The analysis of the data led to the formation of three main categories, including social needs, cognitive needs, and psychological needs. The social needs category comprised of the subcategories of support for care, effective communication and financial support. The cognitive needs category comprised of educational support and support in decision-making. The psychological needs category comprised of support for psychological trauma, preparation to confront the reality of the death of a loved one, and support for mourning.


The family caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients take on the responsibility of many aspects of care for their patient, but many of their own needs remain unmet. The findings of this study can be used for healthcare policy planning and the development of palliative interventions, particularly for the family caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients.


End of life Cancer Needs Family caregivers Descriptive qualitative method 



This study is part of a nursing PhD thesis funded by Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. Hereby, the authors would like to express their gratitude to the participants who eagerly cooperated with us despite the suffering caused by the illness of their loved ones.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical considerations

This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. Before each interview, the participants were orally briefed on the objectives of the study and gave their informed written and verbal consent for participation. They were also told that they could freely withdraw from the study at any stage they desired.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maryam Hashemi
    • 1
  • Alireza Irajpour
    • 2
    Email author
  • Fariba Taleghani
    • 2
  1. 1.Students Research Center, Faculty of Nursing and MidwiferyIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Nursing and Midwifery Care Research Center, Faculty of Nursing and MidwiferyIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran

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