Introduction: Cancer care is devastating to families. This research studied the informal caregivers' perceptions of burden of caregiving to cancer patients attending University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar.
Methods: The research adopted a cross-sectioned descriptive design and 210 caregivers providing care to advanced cancer patients were purposively selected. Data were collected using a researcher developed questionnaire and standardized Zarit Burden Interview scale (ZBIS). Data collected were analysed using descriptive and chi-square statistics with the help of SPSS 18.0 and PAS 19.0 softwares.
Results: The results indicated that the caregivers were in their youthful and active economic age, dominated by females, Christians, spouses, partners and parents. The burden levels experienced by the caregivers were as follows: severe (46.2%), moderate (36.2%) and trivial of no burden (17.6%). The forms of burden experienced were physical (43.4%), psychological (43.3%), financial (41.1%) and social (46.7%), quite frequently and nearly always. Psychological and social forms of burden had the highest weighted score of 228 in terms of magnitude of burden. The result further showed that there was a significant (P = 0.001) and inverse association between caregivers' burden and the care receivers’ functional ability. The level of burden also increased significantly (P = 0.000) with the duration of care, while there was also a significant (P = 0.01) relationship between caregivers’ experience of burden and their desire to continue caregiving.
Conclusion: Caregiving role can be enhanced by provision of interventions such as formal education programme on cancer caregiving, oncology, home services along side with transmural care.