Cancer caregivers prone to depression, need psychological support

A recent study by Yuan-Chien Pan and colleagues found a significant frequency of depression among cancer caregivers. The findings of this study were published in Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Caregivers of patients struggling from life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, face a significant burden on a daily basis. Caregivers must also deal with their own anxiety and grief over their loved ones’ health and prognosis. Because of the great load of caring duties, caregivers of cancer patients frequently develop depressive symptoms. As a result, this meta-analysis was carried out to investigate the incidence of depression among cancer caregivers.

This review evaluated 85 papers encompassing 23,317 people published between 2001 and 2021 (25 countries) that reported the prevalence of depression among cancer patients caregivers. The pooled prevalence of depression and postulated modifiers, such as year, gender, age, geographic areas, depression measures, proportion of spousal caregivers, and cancer stage, were investigated.

The key findings of this study were as follow:

1. All 85 effect sizes comprised 6,077 caregivers of depressed patients.

2. The weighted mean prevalence of depression among caregivers was 25.14%.

3. The prevalence rates were influenced by geographic location, cancer stage, and depressive indicators.

4. The prevalence rates also differed among the various depression assessment measures.

5. The prevalence rate declined as caregivers’ average age and the percentage of spouse caregivers decreased.

In conclusion, according to this meta-analysis, over one-fourth of cancer caregivers suffer from depression. This emphasizes the need for psychological support for cancer patients and caregivers. Several sociodemographic and care-related risk variables have an influence on the mental load and quality of life of caregivers. As a result, it is critical to shift from a patient-centered to a family-centered strategy to lessen the stress on family caregivers when faced with the impending death of a family member and to prevent the worsening of depressive symptoms.

Reference:

Pan, Y.-C., & Lin, Y.-S. (2022). Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prevalence of Depression Among Caregivers of Cancer Patients. In Frontiers in Psychiatry (Vol. 13). Frontiers Media SA. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.817936

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