Anxiety and Depression Symptoms in Caregivers Prior to Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HCT).


Waldman LP(1), Nelson AM(2), Jacobs JM(3), Gray TF(4), Clay M(1), Jagielo AD(1), Rice J(1), Traeger L(3), El-Jawahri A(3).
Author information:
(1)Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
(2)Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address: [Email]
(3)Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
(4)Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.


Family and friends caring for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) recipients experience substantial disruptions in daily life as they prepare for transplant. These disruptions may increase their psychological distress, yet little research has described the extent of this distress. The goals of the present study were to characterize rates of anxiety and depression symptoms immediately prior to HCT and their relationship with modifiable caregiving domains. We conducted a secondary analysis of cross-sectional data of caregivers of patients undergoing HCT. Caregivers completed self-report measures to assess 8 domains of caregiving (Caregiver Oncology Quality of Life Questionnaire) and anxiety and depression symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]) prior to transplant. Scores ≥8 on the HADS anxiety and depression subscales signified clinically significant symptoms. We used multivariable regression models adjusting for age, sex, caregiver relationship, and HCT type to examine the associations between caregiving domains and anxiety and depression symptoms. We enrolled 193 caregivers (median age = 60 years, 70.0% female, 52.3% allogeneic transplant). A majority of participants were providing care for a spouse (79.8%), followed by a child (7.8%) or parent (5.2%). On average, caregivers reported more anxiety (mean = 7.04, SD = 3.94) than depression symptoms (mean = 4.18, SD = 3.49), with 46.6% and 16.1% endorsing clinically significant anxiety and depression symptoms, respectively. Caregiver anxiety was associated with worse physical well-being, less leisure time, and poorer coping (Ps < .05). Caregiver depression symptoms were associated with worse physical well-being and less leisure time (Ps < .05). Caregivers of HCT recipients experience substantial psychological distress, particularly anxiety, prior to transplant. This distress is linked to modifiable caregiving domains. Study findings identify possible targets for psychosocial interventions aimed at managing caregiver anxiety and depression symptoms as well as highlight the need for intervention early during the course of transplant.