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Keywords:

  • burden of care;
  • family caregiving;
  • family disruption;
  • psychological distress;
  • rural and remote

ABSTRACT: This study examines the impact of travelling for treatment on cancer patients and their families. Twenty-eight consecutive cancer patients, who were receiving radiation therapy treatment and 19 family carers, completed a structured needs assessment questionnaire and an in-depth interview.

Both patients and carers reported moderate to high levels of unmet psychological need. Carers were found to have higher levels of anxiety than patients, although both groups had higher anxiety levels than the general population. Taking more responsibility for household tasks and organising new living arrangements for the family were the most frequently identified demands of a dual burden of caring. Nearly 40% of carers reported some disruption to their schedule and half reported experiencing financial difficulties. The qualitative interviews highlight the disruption that parents and children experience under the present system, particularly in relation to the demands of family life and the need to maintain some level of continuity and security for children.