Purpose/background: Caregivers' quality of life (QOL) may be maximized when the caregivers' needs in the context of cancer care are met. Therefore, determining what needs are not being satisfied for family caregivers should be the first step in the development of programs designed to enhance caregivers' QOL.
Method: The 28-item Needs Assessment of Family Caregivers-Cancer (NAFC-C) scale was developed and validated with caregivers at three different survivorship phases: at 2 months (n=162), 2 years (n=896), and 5 years (n=608) post-diagnosis.
Results: The NAFC-C helped to identify caregivers whose needs were less likely to be met, based on their age and ethnicity. Furthermore, the extent to which caregivers' psychosocial needs were not being met was a consistent and strong predictor of poor mental health across all phases of survivorship, beyond the effects of a host of demographic characteristics.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that interventions designed to help caregivers manage their own emotional distress as well as the survivors' distress, find meaning in the cancer caregiving experience, and foster supportive familial relationship will benefit caregivers by improving their QOL, not only during the time of diagnosis and treatment but years after.
(c) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.