Health outcomes and quality of life for informal caregivers of patients with cancer are influenced by social and family factors, according to a National Cancer Institute (NCI) study published online first in the journal Cancer.

NCI researchers sought to gain a better understanding of the impact social factors and family functioning have on the people who provide informal care to cancer patients. The researchers used data from the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance consortium to observe social and family factors of caregivers.

In this study, patients with lung and colorectal cancers nominated an informal caregiver to participate in a caregiving survey. The survey assessed sociodemographic and caregiving characteristics, social stress, quality of their relationship with the patient, and family functioning.

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The results revealed that relationship quality and family functioning was reported as good by most caregivers, with stress levels reported as low to moderate.

Multivariable analyses identified older age as associated with less social stress and better family functioning but worse relationship quality. Those caring for a female patient reported less social stress and better relationship quality but worse family functioning.

Caregiving characteristics were more likely to be significant independent correlates of relationship quality than associated with social stress. Social factors independently correlated with one another.


1. Litzelman K, Kent EE, Rowland JH. Social factors in informal cancer caregivers: The interrelationships among social stressors, relationship quality, and family functioning in the CanCORS data set [published online ahead of print October 19, 2015].

Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.29741.