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Empowering Caregivers

Cancer is scary and stressful. Not only for the patient, but often affecting loved ones or friends who serve as caregivers. Caregiver burden refers to the stress felt by a person who takes care of a family member or friend during treatment or an illness. This includes support of basic daily activities such as making meals, getting from once place to another (e.g., doctor’s appointments), as well as coordination of services or care.

A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving further highlights caregiver burden:

  • 88% of caregivers provided care to a relative
  • 39% lived with the person they cared for
  • 50% of all caregivers reported high emotional stress related to caregiving
  • 25% reported high financial strain
  • 43% needed help to manage emotional and physical stress

As new approaches are piloted for cancer care delivery, it is important for multidisciplinary care teams to include, support, and empower caregivers as crucial members of the cancer care team.

The target audience is the multidisciplinary cancer care team including clinicians, financial navigators, administrators, and all other members of the team who impact caregiver experience and support.

Empowering Caregivers Educational Program

ACCC is developing an educational program titled, “Empowering Caregivers,” that will foster discussions on how to ease caregiver burden and address issues related to caregiver supports.

The aims of this educational program include:

  • Gather information from cancer programs and practices to understand the current state of caregiver supports, gaps in care and successful approaches/models/best practices for supporting and empowering caregivers
  • Explore and address equity issues and disparities related to caregiver experience and supports
  • Provide multidisciplinary teams and other stakeholders with education and resources to enhance caregiver support and empowerment

Cancer Buzz Podcasts

  • Combatting Caregiver Isolation Through Awareness and Education — [MINI PODCAST] EP 130
    Aug 29, 2023

    "Many caregivers have it together, they’re on top of everything. They are organized, they are experts at this, but they are falling apart inside. You aren’t going to know if you don’t ask."

  • Practical Tips for Providers to Empower Caregivers — [MINI PODCAST] EP 127
    Aug 22, 2023

    CANCER BUZZ spoke to Allison Applebaum, PhD, Psychologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, NY. Listen as Dr. Applebaum discusses practical tips providers can use to support caregiver empowerment.

  • There is No One-Size-Fits-All Care Plan for Caregivers — [MINI PODCAST] EP 125
    Aug 15, 2023

    The rapid evolution of cancer care delivery toward multi-agent regimens, oral and/or combination therapies, and at-home treatment administration has made cancer caregiving extremely complex. The Caregiver Clinic at Memorial Sloan Kettering provides support to people who are having difficulty coping with the demands of being a caregiver. The purpose of this clinic is to help individuals maximize their ability to provide care to loved ones while attending to their own self-care, needs, and other important responsibilities. Caregivers can receive individual, group, couples, and family therapy sessions, as well as medication management as needed.

  • Caregiving: Examining Psychosocial Care for Those Who Experience Distress Due to Their Caregiving Role — [MINI PODCAST] EP 121
    Aug 1, 2023

    Caregivers experience higher levels of financial, emotional, and physical health difficulties than non-caregivers and are more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms and mental health problems. The Caregivers Clinic at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is the first of its kind and provides comprehensive psychosocial care to family members and friends of patients who experience significant distress and burden because of their caregiving role.

From the Advisory Committee

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be daunting for patients and their loved ones. It is our responsibility as healthcare workers to not only provide the best care possible to our patients, but also to provide the support and infrastructure their families and caregivers need within the home. Projects supported by the ACCC such as this help to create a more patient-centered care model and equip caregivers with the vitals tools and resources needed.

Elliot Backer, MD, Advisory Committee member
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

I cared for my grandfather with cancer prior to his passing. I was so scared, overwhelmed, and unsure of what to do on a minute-by-minute basis. My experience has been echoed by the numerous other caregivers I have had the great fortune to meet through my role at Caregiver Action Network. Why am I here? To share what I know and what I’ve learned, as well as listen to the insights of others, to strengthen the voice and supports for family caregivers to help them better navigate the unique challenges of caring for a love done with cancer.

Nichole Goble
Caregiver Action Network

Caregivers are critical members of the healthcare team, and they shoulder tremendous responsibilities. They always have, but the Covid-19 pandemic has amplified their role and our reliance on caregivers for significant patient care activities. I am passionate about helping caregivers receive much needed support, education, and recognition early in their caregiving journeys and protecting them against poor psychosocial and medical outcomes. This project with the ACCC will help to ensure that more caregivers across the country will have access to necessary psychosocial services and will promote truly comprehensive family-centered care.

Allison J. Applebaum, PhD, Advisory Committee member
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

For more information on this project, please contact the ACCC Provider Education department.

Our Supporters


This project was made possible by support from EMD Serono.