Goals of work: The objective of this study was to examine whether employment status and gender was associated with family cancer caregivers’ reports of stress and well-being.
Materials and methods: Using a correlational, cross-sectional survey design, this study included 183 primary caregivers (i.e., those individuals who provided the most help to persons with cancer). Caregivers were recruited in a radiation oncology cancer clinic and were administered detailed interviews that collected a wide range of information about the stress process.
Results: Bivariate and multivariable analyses suggested a number of differences between various classifications of employment status and gender. In particular, women who worked appeared more likely to provide instrumental care to the person with cancer when compared to men who did or did not work. In addition, women who worked were more likely to report feelings of exhaustion and fatigue when compared to men who worked.
Conclusions: The results emphasize the need to consider the context of cancer care when analyzing the stress process. When faced with employment, women appear particularly at risk for emotional distress and greater perceived care demands. Utilizing tools that identify cancer caregivers at risk based on work, gender, or other contextual variables may inform the development and targeting of clinical interventions for this population.