Caregiver engagement practices in National Cancer Institute Clinical Oncology Research Program settings: Implications for research to advance the field
Supportive care interventions have demonstrated benefits for both informal and/or family cancer caregivers and their patients, but uptake generally is poor. To the authors' knowledge, little is known regarding the availability of supportive care services in community oncology practices, as well as engagement practices to connect caregivers with these services. Questions from the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP)'s 2017 Landscape Survey examined caregiver engagement practices (ie, caregiver identification, needs assessment, and supportive care service availability). Logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between the caregiver engagement outcomes and practice group characteristics. A total of 204 practice groups responded to each of the primary outcome questions. Only 40.2% of practice groups endorsed having a process with which to systematically identify and document caregivers, although approximately 76% were routinely using assessment tools to identify caregiver needs and approximately 63.7% had supportive care services available to caregivers. Caregiver identification was more common in sites affiliated with a critical access hospital (odds ratio [OR], 2.44; P = .013), and assessments were less common in safety-net practices (OR, 0.41; P = .013). Supportive care services were more commonly available in the Western region of the United States, in practices with inpatient services (OR, 2.96; P = .012), and in practices affiliated with a critical access hospital (OR, 3.31; P = .010). Although many practice groups provide supportive care services, fewer than one-half systematically identify and document informal cancer caregivers. Expanding fundamental engagement practices such as caregiver identification, assessment, and service provision will be critical to support recent calls to improve caregivers' well-being and skills to perform caregiving tasks.