Charles S. Carver

Kim, Y., Shaffer, K. M., Carver, C. S., & Cannady, R. S. (2016). Quality of life of family caregivers eight years after a relative's cancer diagnosis: Follow-up of the national quality of life survey for caregivers. Psycho-Oncology, 25, 266-274.

Background. The long-term impact of cancer caregiving on the family caregivers' quality of life (QOL) is currently not known. This study aimed: (a) to characterize family caregivers of cancer survivors at eight years post-diagnosis in terms of multidimensional aspects of QOL and (b) to identify demographic and early caregiving experience characteristics that may play significant roles in predicting the caregivers' longer-term QOL. Methods. A total of 1,087 caregivers participated in the 8-year follow-up nationwide Quality of Life Survey for Caregivers. Demographics and early caregiving experiences were measured two years post-diagnosis of their relative's cancer. Multidimensional aspects of QOL were assessed, including mental and physical health, psychological adjustment, and spirituality at both 2- and 8-year post-diagnosis. Results. Approximately 90% of family caregivers ceased the caregiver role by 8 years. One fourth of them were due to bereavement. Caregivers' demographic and early caregiving characteristics were significantly associated with QOL. In addition, being bereaved by the eight year mark predicted poorer mental health and greater psychological distress independent of contributions of demographic and early caregiving characteristics. Conclusions. Findings provided the first evidence that 8 years after the initial cancer diagnosis in the family, family members who became bereaved suffer from poorer mental health and greater psychological distress. Findings have theoretical implications for better understanding bereavement to cancer and practical implications for developing integrative programs to improve QOL among family members in the various phases of caregivership.

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