E-poster Presentation 2014 World Cancer Congress

Carer burden, depression and unmet needs among carers of people newly diagnosed with cancer  (#1139)

Leila Heckel 1 , Kate Gunn 2 , John Reynolds 1 , Richard Osborne 1 , Jacquie Chirgwin 3 , David Ashley 4 , Mari Botti 1 5 , Patricia Livingston 1
  1. Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia
  2. Cancer Council SA, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  3. Oncology, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia
  4. The Andrew Love Cancer Centre, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  5. Epworth HealthCare, Richmond, Victoria, Australia

Background: Receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment often imposes a significant psychological burden on both the individual and carer. High carer burden has been observed across three specific phases; the trauma associated with the diagnosis, the physiological impact of treatment, and the challenges of survivorship.

Aim: To examine carer burden, depression and unmet needs among carers of people newly diagnosed with cancer and identify associations between carer/people with cancer characteristics.

Methods: Seventy-one dyads of people newly diagnosed with cancer and their carers, aged 18 years and older, were recruited from four Australian hospitals. These health services included both private/public and urban/rural settings, representing a socially diverse population. People with cancer attending cycles’ 2-5 of adjuvant chemotherapy or fraction 2-10 for radiotherapy and receiving treatment with curative intent, were eligible to participate in the study. Carers completed the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI), Caregiver Reaction Assessment (CRA, self-esteem subscale), Supportive Care Needs Survey-Partners & Carers (SCNS-P&C45), and both groups completed the Centre of Epidemiology-Depression Scale (CES-D).

Results: Overall, 65% of carers reported at least one, 45% at least three, 39% at least five, and 23% at least 10 unmet needs; 42% of carers reported significant burden and 34% of carers and 38% of patients were at risk for clinical depression. A moderate association was observed between burden and unmet needs (r=0.41, p<0.01), burden and carer depression (r=0.48, p<0.01), and between unmet needs and carer depression (r=0.44, p<0.01). Regression analysis showed that large household size was significantly associated with increased burden, carer’s young age and small household size with moderate/high unmet needs, patient depression with carer’s level of self-esteem.


Conclusions: These findings highlight the need for tailored intervention strategies to systematically support the practical and psychological needs of carers of people with cancer at the early stages of treatment.