Supporting the supporters: What family caregivers need to care for a loved one with cancer

Leonard L. Berry, Shraddha Mahesh Dalwadi, Joseph O. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Patients with cancerwholive at homeoften require help with activities of daily living, basic medical care (eg, injections), social needs, and patient advocacy. Most of that support comes from intimate caregivers, typically members of the patient's family. These family caregivers themselves require support so that they can be effective and maintain theirown well-being while caring for the patient with cancer. Research shows that support for caregivers contributes to achieving these goals. We propose a four-part framework for supporting family caregivers: (1) assess caregivers' needs using formal measures, just as the cancer patient's own needs are assessed, (2) educate caregivers for their caregiving roles, most notably, with training in the low-level medical support that cancer patients require at home, (3) empower caregivers to become full-fledged members of the patient's cancer team, all workingtowardcommongoals,and(4) assist caregivers proactively in their duties, so that they retain a sense of control and self-efficacy rather than having to react to imminent medical crises without sufficient resources at their disposal. Funding support for family caregivers requires refocusing on the overall well-being of the patient-caregiver dyad rather than just on the patient. It will necessitate a paradigm shift in reimbursement that recognizes the need for holistic cancer care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Oncology Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Health Policy


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