Assessing the needs of informal caregivers to cancer survivors: a review of the instruments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
1037 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Cancer may impact negatively on an informal caregiver's health long after treatment has ended. This review identifies the self-report measures currently in use to measure caregivers need for support and determines their scientific soundness and clinical utility.

Method: A systematic electronic database search of Medline, CINAHL, PsychINFO, BNI ProQuest was conducted. The psychometric properties and clinical utility of needs assessment tools for caregivers of cancer survivors (excluding advanced disease) were extracted and summarised.

Results: Seven cancer survivor caregiver needs assessment tools were identified. Data on instrument development was well reported, although variability was noted in their structure and content. The majority demonstrated some degree of reliability and validity; only two were evaluated for test–retest reliability (CaSPUN and SPUNS) with only the SPUNS showing a high degree of reliability over time. The Health Care Needs Survey (HCNS), Needs Assessment of Family Caregivers-Cancer (NAFC-C) and Cancer Caregiving Tasks Consequences and Needs Questionnaire (CaTCoN) have been validated at various stages of the cancer continuum. Minimal data was available on responsiveness.

Conclusion: All assessment tools identified require further psychometric analysis. For research purposes, the use of the SPUNS (with its acceptable test–retest reliability) appears most appropriate; although its length may be of concern for clinical use; therefore, the shorter SCNS-P&C is likely to be more suitable for use clinically. At present, the NAFC-C demonstrates a great potential in both the research and clinical environments; however, it requires further psychometric testing before it can be fully recommended. Further analysis is necessary on ideal response formats and the meaning of a total needs score.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Early online date14 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • cancer; oncology; caregivers; needs assessment; review


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the needs of informal caregivers to cancer survivors: a review of the instruments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this