Background: Informal caregivers of people with advanced cancer take on a vital role in the care of the patient. The tasks they take on and the relationship between caregiving tasks and perceived burden is not well understood.
Aim: To describe the caregiver tasks and examine the relationship between perceived burden, care tasks, time spent providing care and patient quality of life in caregivers of advanced cancer patients.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used, collecting data from both caregivers and patients with a diagnosis of lung or gastrointestinal cancer. Caregivers completed measures on Care tasks (Clinical Care Tasks Measure) and caregiver burden (Caregiver Reaction Assessment). Data from patients on their quality of life were also collected (EORTC QLQ-C30).
Results: Data will be reported on 66 dyads. Caregivers were mostly female(70%) aged between 29-78 years(mean 57). Patients were mostly male(62%), aged between 39-87(mean 62 years). Eighty per cent reported providing care provision for the patient seven days a week. Caregivers an average of 6.8 hours of care provided daily. Care tasks carried out were diverse across the sample, and the most common tasks was accompanying the patient to appointments (84%), assisting with driving (70%) and monitoring side effects (68%). More care tasks was associated with more of an impact on the caregivers schedule (r=0.47, p<0.01), but not for other domains of burden (impact on family, health, finances or caregiver esteem). Hours spent caring per week was not associated with burden. Patient quality of life was not associated with time spent providing care, tasks or caregiver burden.
Conclusions: Caregivers conduct a range of tasks in supporting the person with cancer. More care tasks were associated with negative impacts to the caregiver’s schedule. Findings suggest that caregiving burden is not solely associated with care tasks or time spent in this role.