Family caregiving challenges in advanced colorectal cancer: patient and caregiver perspectives

Catherine E. Mosher, Rebecca N. Adams, Paul R. Helft, Bert H. O’Neil, Safi Shahda, Nicholas A. Rattray, Victoria L. Champion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: Family caregivers of advanced colorectal cancer patients may be at increased risk for psychological distress. Yet their key challenges in coping with the patient’s illness are not well understood. Soliciting both patient and caregiver perspectives on these challenges would broaden our understanding of the caregiving experience. Thus, the purpose of this research was to identify caregivers’ key challenges in coping with their family member’s advanced colorectal cancer from the perspective of patients and caregivers. Methods: Individual, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 23 advanced colorectal cancer patients and 23 primary family caregivers. Interview data were analyzed via thematic analysis. Results: In nearly all cases, patient and caregiver reports of the caregiver’s key challenge were discrepant. Across patient and caregiver reports, caregivers’ key challenges included processing emotions surrounding the patient’s initial diagnosis or recurrence and addressing the patient’s practical and emotional needs. Other challenges included coping with continual uncertainty regarding the patient’s potential functional decline and prognosis and observing the patient suffer from various physical symptoms. Conclusions: Findings suggest that eliciting the perspectives of both patients and caregivers regarding caregivers’ challenges provides a more comprehensive understanding of their experience. Results also point to the need to assist caregivers with the emotional and practical aspects of caregiving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2017-2024
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Coping
  • Distress
  • Family caregivers
  • Psychological
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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