Examining Caregiver Outcomes in the CONNECT Intervention for Patients With Advanced Cancer



      Palliative care offers patient and family centered approaches that may mitigate risk of caregiver burden and poor mood.


      To determine whether a palliative care intervention (CONNECT) improved burden, mood, and self-efficacy among caregivers of patients with advanced cancer.


      In this cluster randomized trial, patients and their caregivers were recruited from 17 Oncology clinics in Pennsylvania. Participants attended nurse-led monthly visits, addressing patient symptoms, goals of care, and advance care planning. At baseline and three months, we measured caregiver burden using Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI-12; range 0–48), caregiver anxiety and depression using Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scales (HADS-A, range 0–21; HADS-D, range 0–21). We measured caregiver self-efficacy at three months using Caregiver Inventory (CGI; range 0–189).


      We enrolled 441 caregivers and 381 completed three-month assessments. We found no significant differences in caregiver burden (adjusted mean difference -0.39; 95% CI -1.07–0.29, P = 0.90), depression (adjusted mean difference -0.22, 95% CI -0.97–0.55, P = 0.26), or anxiety (adjusted mean difference 0.09; 95% CI -1.25–1.43, P = 0.58), between the intervention and standard care at three months. Caregiver self-efficacy was higher at three months in the intervention compared to standard care (adjusted mean difference 9.36; 95% CI 0.95–17.77, P = 0.030).


      Caregivers in CONNECT did not experience improved burden or mood, however, they reported higher self-efficacy compared to caregivers receiving standard care. This study highlights the need for strategies to optimize caregiver outcomes in palliative care interventions.

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