This study aimed to measure the health status and care needs of people who provide informal care to cancer survivors in the UK. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 24 cancer professionals to identify the care needs of caregivers. In addition, we conducted a postal survey measuring the health and wellbeing (SF-36) and health service utilisation of 98 primary caregivers of a random sample of cancer survivors, 2-20 years post-treatment. Interviews indicated that caregivers’ needs were largely unmet. In particular, there appeared to be a need in relation to statutory health care provision, information, psychological support and involvement in decision making. There were no significant differences between survivors and caregivers in terms of mental health scores; and caregivers performed better on physical health domains compared to cancer survivors. Compared to UK norms and norms for caregivers of other chronic conditions, cancer caregivers had substantially lower scores on each SF-36 health domain. Cancer may impact negatively on an informal caregiver’s health long after treatment has ended. Providing appropriate and cancer specific information may alleviate difficulties and improve health and wellbeing. Specific concentration should be given to the development and delivery of information support for caregivers of post-treatment cancer survivors.
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