Coaching sessions provided through videoconferencing may help alleviate anxiety and distress in distance caregivers (DCGs). DCGs were defined in this study as patient caregivers located more than an hour away from the patients for whom they provide care. These study results were accepted as part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Program.

For DCGs, limitations on the awareness of a patient’s status can lead to anxiety or distress, according to the researchers, who also indicated that approximately one-fifth of caregivers are DCGs.

In this randomized, controlled trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02666183), DCGs of patients with cancer were placed into 1 of 3 treatment arms receiving varying levels of intervention, and they were evaluated for outcomes of anxiety and distress:

  • Arm 1 DCGs were given 4 videoconference coaching sessions with either a nurse practitioner or a social worker on a monthly basis, in addition to access to a website for DCGs and attendance in monthly patients’ oncologist appointments through videoconferencing.
  • Arm 2 DCGs were given the interventions in Arm 1, but without coaching sessions.
  • Arm 3 DCGs were given access to the website for DCGs, but no other interventions.

DCGs had a mean age of 47 years, and the majority (71%) were female. Most (63%) were children of the patients, and the vast majority (81%) were employed. Patients had a mean age of 65 years. Gastrointestinal and hematologic cancers were fairly common, and more than half (59%) of the solid tumor cancers in this patient population were stage 4.


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The researchers reported that Arm 1 was the only treatment arm with a significant improvement (21.2%) in DCG anxiety over time (P =.03). For distress, Arm 1 also showed the best improvement (54.3%; P =.02).

The researchers indicated that coaching sessions through videoconferencing provided significant differences in anxiety and distress for DCGs that were clinically meaningful.

Disclosure: Multiple authors declared affiliations with industry. Please refer to the original abstract for a full list of disclosures.

Reference

Douglas SL, Mazanec P, Lipson AR, et al. Video conference intervention for distance caregivers (DCGs) of patients with cancer: improving psychological outcomes. Presented at: ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Program. J Clin Oncol. 2020;38(suppl):abstr 12123.