A Population-Based Study of the Quality of Life of Cancer Survivors and Their Family Caregivers

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Abstract

Although survival rates for all cancers continue to increase, few studies have examined the quality of life of both cancer survivors and family caregivers during the survivorship period after treatment has ended. Information is lacking on the stressors, resources, meaning, and quality of life reported by survivors and family caregivers and the interrelationship between survivors' and family caregivers' quality of life. A stratified, random sample of 123 cancer survivors and 123 family caregivers (N = 246) were interviewed in an exploratory, cross-sectional design 1-6 years after cancer treatment had ended. Approximately half (N = 62) of the dyads were white and half (N = 61) were African American. Results indicated that cancer survivors reported significantly higher quality of life, less fear of cancer recurrence, and more support than their family caregivers. The strongest predictors for cancer survivors' quality of life were family stressors, social support, meaning of the illness, and employment status, whereas the strongest predictors for family caregivers' quality of life were fear of recurrence and social support. Both the survivor's and family caregiver's quality of life independently contributed to the other's quality of life. Findings from this study suggest the importance of including both survivors and family caregivers in programs of care.

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