’s survey of family caregivers highlights the unmet needs of the cancer caregiver community

Seattle, WA (November 17, 2010) – Navigating Cancer, an innovative provider of free online tools and resources for cancer patients, today revealed the findings of a survey to gauge the impact on patient caregivers. The survey exposed how unpaid caregivers, often family members or the spouse of the patient, encounter physical, emotional and financial effects as a result of caring for a loved one with cancer.

Half of those surveyed reported their health was negatively affected as a result of being a caregiver, and 43% reported their employment or income was negatively affected.

“The caregiver is a vital role in the treatment equation, and while the attention is – rightly – given to the patient, we learned there’s a community of caregivers whose needs are unmet,” said Navigating Cancer CEO Gena Cook. “We wanted to understand the experiences of caregivers, and how we could better serve their needs.”

The most common ailments experienced among caregivers were stress (88%), anxiety (79%) and fatigue (77%). Almost half of those with health issues also experienced poor diet, physical strain, depression and isolation.

Other significant findings showed:

  • Over half (53%) of cancer caregivers surveyed were the sole caretaker for the patient, receiving no significant help from family, friends or community organizations.
  • 59% of caregivers surveyed spent over 20 hours a week on their duties.
  • Almost half of caregivers surveyed were employed full time, with 65% employed full or part time.

Caregivers also reported a lack of resources to support their needs. Over half (61%) of caregivers surveyed did not receive information designed for caregivers from their patient’s healthcare team.

When caregivers were asked to rank the most useful resources for their work, the highest rated on average was a comprehensive library of resource information, followed by a tool for tracking medications and side effects.

“Our health tracking tools are a good starting point to support caregivers, but our next step is to build an online resource library with a robust caregiver component,” Cook said. “This will be a collaborative process with caregivers, healthcare professionals and the advocacy community to showcase existing resources and gather ideas for new resources to better serve caregivers.”