Project ID: 2015_042_GIR_01

Background and Aims:

It was projected that over 18,000 females were diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2018 alone. Supporting a loved one with cancer has the potential to impact on the supporter’s physical and mental health. Many supporters feel ill-prepared for that role, especially if they are required to address complex medical needs while also supporting their loved one with their psychological challenges following a cancer diagnosis.

This project gathered information to guide the development of an online supporter training intervention, Care Assist, specifically designed for male supporters of women with breast cancer. The Care Assist pilots study explored five areas of supporter needs - symptom management, communication, coping and self-care, changes to sexual relationships, and dealing with treatment transitions and uncertainty; with the goal of improving supporters’ wellbeing and ability to cope better with their supporting role, as well as patients’ wellbeing.


  • The most commonly reported challenges experienced by male caregivers were fear of recurrence, changes to sex life and managing the impact on daily life, however few participants felt they needed help for such challenges.
  • Unmet needs were low overall, however higher needs were reported aligning with the previously identified challenges, emotional support for the caregiver, and understanding their loved one’s experience of cancer.
  • Most participants expressed a preference for an online multimedia intervention with content developed around specific milestones in the cancer experience.


Male caregivers experience cancer-related challenges across physical and psychosocial domains. The development of an online psychosocial intervention for men may provide a suitable avenue with broad reach to support this population who are unlikely to access formal supportive care services.