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Caregivers’ differing needs across key experiences of the advanced cancer disease trajectory

  • Lori L. DuBenske (a1), Kuang-Yi Wen (a1), David H. Gustafson (a1), Charles A. Guarnaccia (a2), James F. Cleary (a3), Susan K. Dinauer (a1) and Fiona M. Mctavish (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2008

Familial caregivers are providing increasing amounts of care to advanced cancer patients. Increased understanding of caregivers’ needs is vital in providing necessary support to lessen caregiver burden and morbidity. Current literature has identified caregiver and patient needs at broad stages of the cancer trajectory; however, such broad stages may be too general to inform a practice of targeting specific interventions when they have the greatest utility. This study examines a variety of particular needs across a number of more discrete illness-related transition experiences specifically in the advanced cancer disease trajectory.


One hundred fifty-nine female informal caregivers of people with advanced cancer completed a needs assessment survey.


Analyses of these cross-sectional retrospective-report data reveal that cancer caregiver needs vary across specific key experiences occurring within the broader stages of illness identified by current literature. Furthermore, caregivers have unique needs during bereavement.

Significance of results:

Although the sample characteristics are demographically limited, this study provides preliminary evidence that the broad stages are not specific enough increments for effectively examining caregiver needs and supports the need for more precise distribution of cancer-related information at more discrete times in the illness course.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Lori DuBenske, 1513 University Avenue, ME 4105, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail:
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Palliative & Supportive Care
  • ISSN: 1478-9515
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