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Cancer. 2002 Jan 15;94(2):521-7.

Lifestyle interference and emotional distress in family caregivers of advanced cancer patients.

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University of Toronto, Women's Health Program, University Health Network, ON, Canada.



Providing end-of-life care at home to a family member with advanced cancer can have a negative impact on the emotional well-being of the family caregiver. The current study examined the impact of providing care on lifestyle and emotional well-being in a sample of caregivers to patients with advanced cancer. The mediation of lifestyle interference between the amount of care provided and emotional distress was specifically examined.


Forty-four family caregivers participated in a structured quantitative interview. Lifestyle interference was assessed by the Caregiving Impact Scale, amount of care provided was assessed by the Caregiver Assistance Scale, and emotional distress was assessed by the Profile of Mood States-Short Form. Pearson and partial correlations tested whether lifestyle interference mediated the relationship between caregiving assistance and emotional distress. Regression analyses determined overall correlates of emotional distress.


Three criteria, required to substantiate mediation, were met for total mood disturbance and the depression and tension subscales. An overall regression model identified education level and lifestyle interference to be significant and unique correlates of emotional distress.


The current results suggest that caregivers experience increased emotional distress, regardless of the amount of care provided, when limited in their ability to participate in valued activities and interests. In addition, caregivers with less than a high school education experience more emotional distress. Therefore, helping caregivers maintain valued aspects of their lifestyle should be an important element of home care.

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