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Systematic review of caregiver burden, unmet needs and quality-of-life among informal caregivers of patients with pancreatic cancer

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Lisa Crowe, Dr Keno Mentor, Sanjay PandanaboyanaORCiD, Professor Linda Sharp



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s). Purpose: Informal caregivers play an important supportive care role for patients with cancer. This may be especially true for pancreatic cancer which is often diagnosed late, has a poor prognosis and is associated with a significant symptom burden. We systematically reviewed the evidence on caregiver burden, unmet needs and quality-of-life of informal caregivers to patients with pancreatic cancer. Method: PubMed, Medline, CINAHL and Embase databases were systematically searched on 31 August 2021. Qualitative and quantitative data on informal caregivers’ experiences were extracted and coded into themes of burden, unmet needs or quality-of-life with narrative synthesis of the data undertaken. Results: Nine studies (five qualitative, four quantitative), including 6023 informal caregivers, were included in the review. We categorised data into three key themes: caregiver burden, unmet needs and quality-of-life. Data on caregiver burden was organised into a single subtheme relating to symptom management as a source of burden. Data on unmet needs was organised into three subthemes need for: better clinical communication; support and briefings for caregivers; and help with navigating the health care system. Data on quality-of-life indicate large proportions of informal caregivers experience clinical levels of anxiety (33%) or depression (12%-32%). All five qualitative studies were graded as good quality; three quantitative studies were poor quality, and one was fair quality. Conclusion: High-quality pancreatic cancer care should consider the impacts of informal caregiving. Prospective longitudinal studies examining multiple dimensions of caregiver burden, needs, and quality-of-life would be valuable at informing supportive care cancer delivery to pancreatic cancer informal caregivers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chong E, Crowe L, Mentor K, Pandanaboyana S, Sharp L

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Supportive Care in Cancer

Year: 2023

Volume: 31

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 22/12/2022

Acceptance date: 07/11/2022

ISSN (print): 0941-4355

ISSN (electronic): 1433-7339

Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH


DOI: 10.1007/s00520-022-07468-7

PubMed id: 36544073