Purpose: Anxiety is prevalent, distressing, and understudied among patients with advanced lung cancer and their family caregivers. Preliminary evidence suggests that anxiety is not only present in both patients and caregivers but shared by the dyad. Few studies have examined the nature of shared anxiety and its impact on patient-caregiver dyads.
Methods: This study was developed to identify shared causes and manifestations of anxiety experienced by patients with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and their primary caregivers. Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews with ten matched patient-caregiver dyads and one unmatched patient (N = 21) recruited from two comprehensive cancer care centers.
Results: Using grounded theory, eight themes emerged characterizing shared causes and manifestations of anxiety: (1) uncertainty, (2) loss and impending loss, (3) changing roles, (4) conflict outside the dyad, (5) finances, (6) physical symptoms, (7) fears of decline and dying, and (8) life after the patient’s passing. All themes were shared by patients and caregivers.
Conclusions: Implications for future research include the development and evaluation of interventions to reduce anxiety in cancer patient-caregiver dyads.