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Caring for the informal cancer caregiver

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Informal cancer caregivers play a vital role in the physical, functional, and emotional well being of cancer patients. However, the majority of informal caregivers are not prepared for their caregiving role. We reviewed and synthesized the recent literature (last 18 months) and focused on research in the following understudied areas: technology-driven interventions for informal caregivers; informal caregivers of older adults with cancer; interrelationship between informal caregiver and dyadic outcomes; and research priorities and guidelines to improve informal caregiver support. RECENT FINDINGS: Studies focused on technology-driven informal caregiver interventions, with evidence of good feasibility and acceptability with benefits for burden and quality of life (QOL). Studies also focused on QOL for caregivers of older adults with cancer. Finally, research priorities and clinical guidelines were established through Delphi survey studies. SUMMARY: Despite the substantial evidence on informal cancer caregiving, more research is needed to further characterize caregivers at high risk for burden, explicate interrelationships between caregiver/patient outcomes, and test innovative and scalable interventions. Studies are also needed to understand the specific needs of informal caregivers in cancer surgery, an understudied treatment population.

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Walters Kluwer
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Current opinion in supportive and palliative care
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