Family caregivers play a crucial role in cancer patient care, as they are their principal source of support. It is well recommended to provide them with the resources, information and support needed to maintain a good health, and to sustain their caregiving role. Recently, oncology centres have implemented systematic distress screening programs, but the focus has been limited to cancer patients, with little intervention on their family caregivers. This study aims to address this gap. It will implement and test the effectiveness of a simple intervention integrating primary care and oncology care that transfers into practice the main recommendations of governmental authorities and experts to globally improve supportive care.
The intervention includes systematic distress screening and problems assessment of family caregivers at diagnosis, and every two months, privileged contact with a nurse, away from the patient, to address family caregivers distress and identified problems, and for caregivers experiencing high level of distress, liaison by the study nurse with their family physician to transfer information on their identified problems and level of distress and to facilitate a shared follow-up. This intervention has been pilot-tested with family caregivers, health care providers and decision makers involved in lung cancer care, as well as with community-based family physicians, to ensure its feasibility and acceptability. This study findings may clearly improve patient and caregiver experience of cancer care, and reduce the burden of disease.