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J Psychosoc Oncol. 2017 Nov-Dec;35(6):646-665. doi: 10.1080/07347332.2017.1323817. Epub 2017 May 1.

Physical and emotional well-being and support in newly diagnosed head and neck cancer patient-caregiver dyads.

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a Hollings Cancer Center , Medical University of South Carolina , Charleston , SC , USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine the physical and emotional well-being and social support in newly diagnosed head and neck cancer (HNC) patients and caregivers and identify sociodemographic, clinical, and behavioral risk factors associated with compromised well-being in patients and caregivers. Newly diagnosed HNC patients and their primary caregivers (N = 72 dyads) completed questionnaires before treatment assessing physical and mental well-being, depression, cancer worry, and open-ended support questions. Patients reported worse physical well-being than caregivers (p < 0.05) but similar levels of mental well-being. Caregivers reported providing emotional and instrumental support most frequently with an emphasis on nutrition and assistance with speech, appearance, and addictions. Both patients and their caregivers reported suboptimal mental well-being and depression. Smoking was associated with compromised well-being in patients, caregivers, and dyads. Compromised well-being in patients and their caregivers was more likely when patients were younger, had worse symptoms, and smoked/consumed alcohol (p < 0.05). While patients face more physical strain than caregivers, both equally confront emotional challenges. Results highlight risk factors for compromised well-being in both patients and their caregivers that should be assessed at diagnosis to guide identification of needed dyadic-focused supportive care resources.


dyad; emotional well-being; head and neck cancer; physical well-being; social support

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