Employment Status and Work-Related Difficulties among Family Members of Terminally Ill Patients Compared with the General Population

  • Kim, Seon Young (National Cancer Control Institute and Hospital, National Cancer Center) ;
  • Chang, Yoon-Jung (National Cancer Control Institute and Hospital, National Cancer Center) ;
  • Do, Young Rok (Department of Hematooncology, Dongsan Medical Center, Keimyung University School of Medicine) ;
  • Kim, Sam Yong (Division of Hematooncology, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Chungnam National University) ;
  • Park, Sang Yoon (Center for Uterine Cancer, National Cancer Center) ;
  • Jeong, Hyun Sik (Department of Internal Medicine, Sunlin Hospital, Handong University) ;
  • Kang, Jung Hun (Division of Hematooncology, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Gyeongsang National University) ;
  • Kim, Si-Yung (Department of Internal Medicine, Kyunghee University Hospital) ;
  • Ro, Jung Sil (Center for Breast Cancer, National Cancer Center) ;
  • Lee, Jung Lim ;
  • Lee, Woo Jin (Center for Liver Cancer, National Cancer Center) ;
  • Park, Sook Ryun (Center for Stomach Cancer, National Cancer Center) ;
  • Yun, Young Ho (National Cancer Control Institute and Hospital, National Cancer Center)
  • Published : 2013.01.31


Background: Although caregiving to patients with terminal illness is known to be a stressful burden to family members, little attention has been focused on work-related problems. We aimed to investigate employment status and work-related difficulties of family caregivers of terminal cancer patients, comparing with the general population. Methods: Using structured questionnaires, we assessed family caregivers of 481 cancer patients determined by physicians to be terminally ill, from 11 university hospitals and the National Cancer Center in Korea. Results: Among 381 family caregivers of terminal cancer patients (response rate, 87.6%), 169 (43.9%) were not working before cancer diagnosis, but currently 233 (63.7%) were not working. Compared with the general population (36.5%), the percentage of not working among the family caregivers was higher (OR=2.39; 95%CI=1.73-3.29). A major reason for not working was to provide assistance to the patients (71.6%). 40.6% of those who continued working and 32.3% of those who not working family members reported extreme fatigue. Caregivers of old age, those who were female, those with a lower household income, and those caring for patients with a low performance status were not working at a more significant rate. Conclusion: Family caregivers of terminal cancer patients suffer job loss and severe work-related difficulties, probably due to caregiving itself and to fatigue. We need to develop supportive programs to overcome the burden of caregivers of the terminally ill.


Supported by : National Cancer Center


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