• caregiver;
  • advanced cancer;
  • mental health;
  • quality of life;
  • palliative care



This study evaluates the quality of life (QOL) and mental health (MH) of caregivers of patients with advanced cancer who are receiving ambulatory oncology care and associations with patient, caregiver and care-related characteristics.


Patients with advanced gastrointestinal, genitourinary, breast, lung or gynaecologic cancer, and their caregivers, were recruited from 24 medical oncology clinics for a cluster-randomized trial of early palliative care. Caregivers completed the Caregiver QOL—Cancer scale and the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form, version 2, and a questionnaire including care-related factors such as hours/day providing care and change in work situation. Patients completed a demographic questionnaire and measures of their QOL and symptom severity. Associations of these factors with caregiver QOL and MH were examined using linear regression analyses.


Of the 191 caregivers, 84% were spouses/partners, 90% cohabited with the patient, half were working and 25% had a change in work situation since the patient's diagnosis. On multiple regression analysis, better caregiver QOL was associated with better caregiver MH and patient physical well-being and with not providing care for other dependents. Worse caregiver MH was associated with female caregiver sex, worse patient emotional well-being, more hours spent caregiving and change in the caregiver's work situation.


Caregivers of ambulatory patients with advanced cancer may have compromised QOL and MH associated with worse patient physical and emotional well-being and with simultaneously caring for others and working outside the home. Early palliative care interventions directed at patient symptoms and caregiver support may improve QOL in this population. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.