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CancerCare® Publishes White Paper Examining Cancer Caregivers and Treatment Decision Making

CancerCare, the leading national nonprofit organization which provides free, professional support services to anyone affected by cancer, has released a white paper based on findings from focus groups and online discussion boards with social workers and caregivers regarding how caregivers participate in treatment decision making for their close friend or loved one with cancer.

The paper is part of CancerCare’s Patient Values Initiative, which is committed to ensuring that patients’ quality of life priorities are considered before treatment plans are finalized. Caregivers play a critical role here because they are often key members of the teams that care for and treat cancer patients.

According to CancerCare’s Chief Strategy and Policy Officer, Ellen Miller-Sonet, who leads the initiative, “Caregivers are typically not well prepared for helping their friend or loved one choose the best treatment option for them. They can be anxious and overwhelmed by the onslaught of new information and medical jargon, not to mention the logistical and financial challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis.”

This research provided context for better understanding how caregivers interact with other care team members including family members and clinicians; how they define their roles and engage in shared decision making and what their needs are in helping to choose treatment and other care options.

This paper is the first component of CancerCare’s caregiver-focused initiative. It is being used to help guide the development of a national quantitative survey of 2,500 to 3,000 cancer caregivers, intended to elucidate the experiences and challenges related to treatment decision making. The large sample size will facilitate the identification of segmentation schemes for use in the third project phase, which will include the development of tailored strategies and materials to better support caregivers when participating in informed shared decision making.

Patricia J. Goldsmith, CancerCare’s Chief Executive Officer, noted, “This initiative is part of our unwavering policy focus on making sure the patient voice is front and center when treatment decisions are being made. Caregivers are integral members of the care team, and supporting them is integral to making sure patients get the treatment that is best for them considering their personal values and priorities.”

Support for this initiative has been provided by Amgen, Astellas, Eisai, Merck and Pfizer.

The complete white paper can be viewed online here.

About CancerCare®
Founded in 1944, CancerCare is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. Our comprehensive services include resource navigation, counseling and support groups over the phone, online and in-person, educational workshops, publications and financial and co-payment assistance. All CancerCare services are provided by master’s-prepared oncology social workers and world-leading cancer experts.

To learn more, visit or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

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