This study examined support service use and interest in support services among distressed family caregivers of patients recently entering comprehensive cancer care facilities.Methods
Primary family caregivers of lung cancer patients (N = 83) were recruited from three medical centers within 12 weeks of the patient's new visit to the oncology clinic. All family caregivers were screened for psychological distress, and those reporting significant anxiety or depressive symptoms were eligible for this study. Caregivers completed a baseline assessment of support service use (i.e., use of mental health services and complementary and alternative medicine [CAM]) and interest in support services. Support service use was also assessed 3 months later.Results
Although all caregivers reported clinically meaningful distress, only 26% used mental health and 39% used CAM services during the 3-month study period. Patients' receipt of chemotherapy was positively associated with caregivers' mental health service use, whereas greater education and receiving assistance with caregiving tasks were associated with CAM use. Forty percent of caregivers who did not use CAM at baseline were interested in CAM. In addition, 29% of caregivers who did not receive mental health services at baseline were interested in professional psychosocial support, and 29% of caregivers who did not receive staff assistance with practical needs at baseline were interested in this service.Conclusions
Findings suggest that distressed family caregivers of lung cancer patients underuse mental health services and that a sizable minority are interested in professional help with psychosocial and practical needs. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.