Support-seeking by cancer caregivers living in rural Australia.

Rural cancer caregivers report poor wellbeing and high unmet needs for support. This study investigates sources of support sought by cancer caregivers living in rural Australia, and factors associated with support-seeking.

Informal caregivers of people with cancer completed a questionnaire assessing sociodemographic characteristics, caregiver factors and support-seeking. Descriptive statistics, bivariate analyses and logistic regression were used to identify common sources of support and factors associated with support-seeking. Alluvial and radar plots were used to identify and describe support-seeking profiles.

Of 244 rural caregivers, 64% reported seeking support for themselves, 72% for the cancer patient, and 22% did not seek any support. The most common sources of support were general practitioners and online. Higher caregiver burden, higher income, caring for someone with anxiety/depression or caring for someone who has difficulty completing their usual activities were associated with seeking support from a greater number of sources. The 'No support-seekers' profile had the highest proportions of caregivers who were male, caring for someone <12 months post-diagnosis and lower income earners.

Many rural caregivers seek support for themselves and the cancer patient, commonly from medical and online sources.

Further work may be needed to reduce caregiver burden and support caregivers who are male, caring for someone recently diagnosed, and those with lower incomes.

Australian and New Zealand journal of public health. 2022 Sep 19 [Epub ahead of print]

Elizabeth A Johnston, Belinda C Goodwin, Larry Myers, Sonja March, Joanne F Aitken, Suzanne K Chambers, Jeff Dunn

Viertel Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Council Queensland, Queensland., Centre for Health Research, University of Southern Queensland, Queensland., Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Queensland.

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