Results from a survey of informal cancer caregivers conducted by the National Institutes of Health indicated which aspects of self-care may be most helpful and successful at maintaining their health. These results were published in Oncology Nursing Forum.

Between 2014 and 2015, 129 adults with active participation caring for a patient with cancer were assessed by 3 lifestyle and health status instruments: Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile-II (HPLP-II), Caregiver Reaction Assessment (CRA), and Family Care Inventory mutuality (FCI).

Caregivers expressed they most frequently participated in interpersonal relationships (mean, 3; standard deviation [SD], 0.6) and spiritual growth (mean, 3; SD, 0.6) and were less likely to engage in stress management (mean, 2.4; SD, 0.6), health responsibility (mean, 2.4; SD, 0.5), and physical activity (mean, 2.3; SD, 0.8).

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Healthy lifestyle scores were positively associated with self-efficacy (r, 0.565; P <.001), physical health (r, 0.504; P <.001), mutuality (r, 0.354; P <.001), and age (r, 0.223; P =.013) and negatively associated with perceived stress (r, -0.547; P <.001), body mass index (r, -0.284; P =.002), and sleep disturbance (r, -0.247; P =.006).

These findings suggested that oncology nurses may focus on spiritual growth and interpersonal relationships to help reduce stress experienced by caregivers and should encourage them to engage in physical activity regularly. Caregivers are unlikely to make radical improvements to their health; however, nurses can encourage them to reach small, attainable goals without leaving the vicinity of the patient.

This study may have been limited by its study population, which was young (mean age, 48.6 years) and highly educated (7% high school or less) and may not be generalizable to the general population.


Ross A, Lee LJ, Wehrlen L, et al. Factors that influence health-promoting behaviors in cancer caregivers. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2020;47(6):692-702. doi:10.1188/20.ONF.692-702