(HealthDay News) — Poor emotional health is common among caregivers of older cancer patients, particularly when patients have higher numbers of geriatric assessment (GA) impairments, according to a study published online March 29 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Lee A. Kehoe, from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and colleagues surveyed 541 patients aged ≥70 years with impairment in at least one GA domain and an incurable solid tumor malignancy or lymphoma as well as 414 caregivers. Emotional health and quality of life (QOL) of the caregivers were evaluated.

The researchers found that 43.5 percent of the caregivers screened positive for distress, 24.4 percent for anxiety, and 18.9 percent for depression. There was an association between a higher number of patient GA domain impairments and caregiver depression (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.29), caregiver physical health, and overall caregiver QOL. There were also associations between impaired patient function and lower caregiver QOL and impaired patient nutrition and caregiver depression (aOR, 2.08). Worse caregiver outcomes were seen with lower caregiver age, caregiver comorbidity, and patient distress.

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“Future studies should explore GA-guided interventions that include not only the older patient with cancer but also their caregivers, as a dyadic or triadic (with the oncologist) approach to interventions,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text