Family Caregivers Of Frail Older Adults With Metastatic Prostate Cancer: A Qualitative Exploration Of The Caregiving Experience

Awardee: Helen Yang

Graduate Program: MSc

Institution: University of Toronto

Supervisor(s): Shabbir Alibhai

ARCC Program Area(s): Societal Values and Public Engagement; Survivorship

Competition: 2020

Project Summary:

Metastatic prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Canada and largely affects older men. Providing care to these older adults with cancer can be challenging. In fact, caregivers of older men with metastatic prostate cancer often report higher levels of distress than the patients. Additionally, the complex caregiving experience can be made more difficult when compounded by the caregiver’s own health issues. Caregiver burden is a growing concern; it is especially so with an aging population, the restructuring of health services in Canada, and development of cancer treatment options that can be taken orally at home.  However, there is a lack of information on these caregivers who improve the lives of the most vulnerable men receiving treatment for metastatic prostate cancer.

We are bridging this gap by examining the experience of caregiving for older men with metastatic prostate cancer. This will also be the first study to explore the potential differences in caregiving needs, burdens, and benefits between the two main treatments for metastatic prostate cancer.

We will recruit and interview caregivers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, which is Canada’s largest university-affiliated cancer centre with a comprehensive prostate cancer program. Then, we will review and analyze important themes to provide a rich and nuanced account of the caregivers’ experiences. For a more comprehensive description of the caregivers, we will also collect demographic information (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, comorbidity), and measures of needs, burdens, and benefits using structured questionnaires.

The findings will help us understand these individuals who are vital to the Canadian healthcare system, yet fail to receive the attention they deserve. It will also inform health policies and programs that will address the unmet needs, and enable both caregivers and patients to receive better care and quality of life.

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