A feasibility study of virtual group therapy to improve quality of life of cancer caregivers

Maria I. Lapid, Pamela J. Atherton, Simon Kung, Matthew M. Clark, Jeff A. Sloan, Kevin J. Whitford, Joleen M. Hubbard, Melanie T. Gentry, Janis J. Miller, Teresa A. Rummans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cancer caregiving can negatively impact the quality of life (QOL) of the caregiver. In-person interventions for improving coping skills have been shown to be effective in improving QOL for caregivers. Objectives: This pilot project explored the feasibility and acceptability of a virtual group therapy intervention to improve short-term cancer caregiver QOL. Methods: Caregivers of cancer patients were enrolled in a structured multidisciplinary intervention of eight virtual group therapy sessions provided over four weeks between September 9, 2013 and November 17, 2014. Group sessions were led by trained facilitators and included components of physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychosocial education, cognitive-behavioral intervention, supportive discussion, spiritual reflection, and mindfulness therapy. Feasibility was based on acceptable number of recruited participants per session; acceptability was defined using attendance and 80% QOL completion rates. QOL domains and symptom burden were assessed using validated single items. Results: The 20 cancer caregivers who enrolled were mostly older (80% were ≥ 65 years), female (76.5%), married to the patient (88.2%), Caucasian (100%), and highly educated (100%). 60% attended one to five sessions, 15% attended six to eight sessions, and 25% attended no sessions. Thirty percent completed pre- and post- intervention ratings of QOL items. Significance of Results: Findings suggested that a virtual group therapy intervention is feasible for the cancer caregivers in this study. Although not statistically significant, the caregivers reported higher QOL and less symptom burden in multiple domains after participating in the virtual group therapy intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-867
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022


  • QOL
  • caregiver burden
  • caregiver distress
  • telepsychiatry
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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