Cancer communication and family caregiver quality of life

Elaine Wittenberg, Tami Borneman, Marianna Koczywas, Catherine Del Ferraro, Betty Ferrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Family caregivers have enormous communication responsibilities tied to caregiving, such as sharing the patient's medical history with providers, relaying diagnosis and prognosis to other family members, and making decisions about care with the patient. While caregiver stress and burden has been widely documented in the caregiving literature, little is known about how communication burden, real or perceived communication challenges, impacts caregiver quality of life. In family caregiving, the City of Hope (COH) Quality of Life model proposes that the caregiving experience is reciprocal to the patient experience, impacting physical, social, psychological, and spiritual quality of life. We used data from a pilot study testing a communication coaching call intervention with family caregivers of lung cancer patients to analyze caregiver reported communication burden and quality of life. We found variances in each quality of life domain, suggesting that caregiver interventions should range from self-care skill building for physical care to psycho-educational interventions that support caregiver coping and communication skill building. These findings demonstrate the importance of caregiver assessment and attention to communication burden in quality cancer care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Caregiver
  • Communication
  • Family caregiving
  • Oncology
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • General Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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