BACKGROUND: Although fatigue is the most frequently occurring symptom in patients with cancer, hardly anything is known about fatigue of their informal caregivers and the impact fatigue might have on perceived burden with providing care. We investigated the presence of fatigue in caregivers, its course and the relation of fatigue severity between caregivers and patients. Furthermore, we explored in caregivers whether fatigue severity was correlated to experienced burden.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Informal caregivers and patients on cancer treatment in the palliative phase completed questionnaires at baseline and follow-up (6 months later). To measure fatigue severity, both groups completed the Checklist Individual Strength. Additionally, caregivers completed the Caregivers Strain Index to assess experienced burden with providing care. Descriptive analyses, paired t-tests, χ(2)-tests, Pearson's correlations and regression analysis were performed.
RESULTS: At baseline 111 couples (patients and caregivers) participated, at follow-up 75 couples. At both time points 23% of caregivers were severely fatigued. There was no significant correlation between patients and caregivers on fatigue. Higher fatigue in both patients and caregivers was correlated with higher burden in caregivers and over 30% of burden could be explained by fatigue.
CONCLUSION: Almost a quarter of caregivers of patients on active palliative treatment were severely fatigued, which figure remained stable over time. Fatigue in both patients and caregivers was related to caregivers' burden. This observation should be taken into account with the growing demand on caregivers and the increase in cancer treatment options in the palliative setting.
- Middle Aged
- Palliative Care
- Prospective Studies
- Quality of Life
- Regression Analysis
- Social Support
- Stress, Psychological/epidemiology
- Surveys and Questionnaires