Cancer Caregiving


Cancer Caregiving Webinar Series: Supporting the Science of Informal Cancer Caregiving: Highlights of NCI-Funded Research. Learn more and access recordings on the webinar series webpage.

What is cancer caregiving, and why conduct cancer caregiving research?

Cancer caregiving is supportive care that may be provided to individuals with a cancer diagnosis. Examples include a family caregiver, a respite caregiver, and a private duty caregiver, among others. Informal caregivers are individuals who provide care to a loved one, and this care is typically uncompensated, takes place at home, and involves significant amounts of time and energy. This support is often physically, emotionally, socially, or financially demanding. Caregivers provide essential support including the following types of care:

  • watching for treatment side effects
  • helping to manage pain, nausea, and fatigue
  • assisting with treatment decision-making
  • assisting with care-related financial management
  • managing the timing or administration of medication
  • changing bandages

Research suggests that caregivers are increasingly relied on to provide such care, as more care is occurring in outpatient and community-based centers, rather than in tertiary or in-patient centers.

Caregivers are often incorporated as partners in care. Research also suggests that caregivers often experience their own physical or psychosocial challenges in providing such care. Further evidence suggests that the physical and psychosocial health outcomes of cancer patients and their caregivers are often related and can have lasting, long-term health impacts for both individuals.

NCI recognizes the increasing burden on informal cancer caregivers, and that this burden is affecting more individuals as the number of people living with cancer grows. As a result, NCI continues to support research on informal cancer caregiving to improve outcomes for both caregivers and patients.

NCI’s Commitment to Advancing Cancer Caregiving Research

NCI supports activities and initiatives to advance the science of informal cancer caregiving. These include: identifying research priorities, notice of funding opportunities, the development of workshops and reports, identifying resources, and webinars. These efforts aim to:

  • improve the characterization of informal caregivers and the care they manage
  • accelerate the development and standardization of measures and metrics for cancer caregiving
  • promote development and testing of interventions aimed at improving outcomes for patients and caregivers
  • facilitate the creation of tools to better integrate cancer caregivers into healthcare delivery

NCI’s Support of Cancer Caregiving Research

2015 NCI Informal Cancer Caregiving Workshop and Strategies to Address Gaps:

In 2015, NCI hosted a workshopExternal Web Site Policy to further identify research priorities in informal cancer caregiving. The workshop brought together staff at the NCI, NINR, and members of the public and resulted in a publicationExternal Web Site Policy describing the discussion and needed research. As a result of this workshop, NCI sought to advance the science of informal cancer caregiving in four areas:

  1. Improving the estimation of the prevalence and burden of informal cancer caregiving
  2. Advancing the development of interventions designed to improve outcomes of cancer patients, caregivers, and patient-caregiver dyads
  3. Generating and testing strategies for integrating caregivers into formal healthcare settings
  4. Promote the use of technology to support informal cancer caregivers

In response to the 2015 workshop, NCI developed a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO): Intervening with Cancer Caregivers to Improve Patient Health Outcomes and Optimize Health Care Utilization PAR-19-352External Web Site Policy (R01), PAR-19-355External Web Site Policy (R21), to support interventions for cancer caregivers. This NOFO resulted in several awards.

2017 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Funded Projects

  • In late 2017, three contracts were awarded under an SBIR topic put forward by HDRP entitled, Connecting Cancer Caregivers to Care Teams: Digital Platforms to Support Informal Cancer CaregivingExternal Web Site Policy:
    1. BrightOutcome Inc. to develop an electronic caregiver support system aimed at addressing caregiving needs and caregiver personal needs;
    2. Care Progress LLC to create a smart phone application that will allow caregivers to access patient electronic health record information and communicate with clinicians; and
    3. Medable Inc to develop and implement a digital application to assist informal caregivers with developing an interactive care plan for home-based care for cancer survivors.
    More information about the SBIR program can be found on the SBIR websiteExternal Web Site Policy.

2022 Informal Cancer Caregiving Webinar Series: Highlights of NCI-Funded Research

In 2022, NCI held a 5-part webinar series featuring 13 grantees funded by the Caregiving NOFOExternal Web Site Policy prior to 2022, to describe their research. Discussions included study accomplishments, challenges, and future needs for cancer caregiving research. Each session included dedicated presentations from each of these 13 funded grantees.

The webinar series concluded with an NCI-led discussion of themes among the funded grants and key opportunities for future informal cancer caregiving research. Gaps identified during this discussion included:

  • Prevalence and burden of informal cancer caregiving
  • Integrating caregivers into care delivery settings
  • Studies that address health disparities
  • Inclusion of underrepresented populations, such as rural cancer patients, rare cancer types, and under-researched populations

To view recordings of these webinars, visit the Cancer Caregiving Webinar Series webpage.

Funding Opportunities for Caregiving Research

Cancer Control NOFOs

Related Cancer Control Funding Opportunities
Title Announcement # Expiration Date
NCI Small Grants Program for Cancer Research PAR-20-052 (R03)External Web Site Policy January 8, 2023
Dyadic Interpersonal Processes and Biopsychosocial Outcomes PAR-21-280/1 (R01)External Web Site Policy May 8, 2023
NIH Research Project Grant (CT Not Allowed) PA-20-185 (R01)External Web Site Policy May 8, 2023
Research to Understand and Address the Survivorship Needs of Individuals Living with Advanced Cancer (CT Optional) RFA-CA-22-027 (R01)External Web Site Policy September 30, 2023
Cancer Prevention and Control Clinical Trials Grants Program (Clinical Trials (CT) Required) PAR-21-035 (R01)External Web Site Policy January 8, 2024
Modular R01s in Cancer Control and Population Sciences (CT Optional) PAR-21-190 (R01)External Web Site Policy March 8, 2024
Exploratory Grants in Cancer Control (CT Optional) PAR-21-341 (R21)External Web Site Policy October 9, 2024
Cancer Prevention and Control Clinical Trials Planning Grant Program (CT Optional) PAR-22-173 (R34)External Web Site Policy September 8, 2025
Previous Caregiving Funding Opportunities
Title Announcement # Expiration Date
Palliative Care Needs of Individuals with Rare Advanced Diseases and Their Family Caregivers PAR-18-149 (R01)External Web Site Policy,
PAR-18-167 (R21)External Web Site Policy
January 8, 2020
Intervening with Cancer Caregivers to Improve Patient Health Outcomes and Optimize Health Care Utilization PAR-19-352 (R01)External Web Site Policy,
PAR-19-355 (R21)External Web Site Policy
September 8, 2022


Reports and Workshops

Patient Resources

Data resources to support research on cancer caregiving

Last Updated: 19 Apr, 2024