New Data Analysis Shows Increase in Cancer Caregivers in Canada, and the Significant Impact of COVID-19

In the newest analysis from The Carer Well-Being Index, 72 per cent of cancer caregivers in Canada have reported a negative impact on their mental and emotional health.

19 Apr 2022 | Toronto, Canada

Highlights from the newest report analysis:

  • 28 per cent of cancer caregivers became a caregiver since the beginning of the pandemic
  • 25 per cent of cancer caregivers reporting having discussions and/or revisiting end-of-life decisions due to delayed diagnosis and treatment
  • 76 per cent of cancer caregivers reported feeling somewhat or very concerned that a focus on COVID-19 will lead to a decline in new innovations or treatments for the condition the person they care for has

In the newest analysis from The Carer Well-Being Index, as part of EMD Serono’s Embracing Carers® Initiative, 72 per cent* of cancer caregivers in Canada have reported a negative impact on their mental and emotional health – one of the many alarming trends affecting cancer caregivers in Canada because of COVID-19. The new analysis of The Carer Well-Being Index shows Canadian cancer caregivers' responses compared to Canadian caregivers in other groups (e.g., muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Parkinson's disease).

For many, the pandemic thrust family members and loved ones into the cancer caregiver role. During the pandemic the increasing pressures of caring for a sick loved one, particularly one with cancer, have received much less attention.  28 per cent of respondents became first time caregivers to cancer patients in the previous year compared to 12 per cent to those in other non-cancer caregiving groups. Significant, but often unseen, stresses are associated with caregiving, including physical, mental and financial burdens where 70 per cent of respondents also reported that COVID-19 had made caregiving harder.

Alberta based Dr. Karen Turpin, Oncology Medical Science Liaison at EMD Serono, virtually presented global findings from the Index at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Genitourinary Cancers Symposium. The event provided expert, multidisciplinary perspectives on the latest clinical and scientific advances in the field.

“Since the pandemic, emphasis has been on the vulnerability of cancer patients to the disease and the possible lifelong implications. But few report its potential impact on those supporting cancer patients,” said Turpin. “Through EMD Serono’s Embracing Carers Initiative, we are striving to identify and raise awareness of these critical findings for the caregiver community.”

Canadian cancer caregivers have taken on increased responsibilities while providing support virtually and managing technology. 32 per cent of cancer caregivers had to support with virtual / remote technology to stay connected while 18 per cent of respondents having to purchase new technology to support cancer patients compared to other caregiver groups.

“At EMD Serono, we understand the crucial role caregivers play in Canadians’ lives,” said Manuel Zafra, Managing Director, EMD Serono Canada. “They are integral and the backbone to our healthcare system.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the logistics of clinical practice, and this study reflects the major issue facing cancer care since the pandemic,” said Dr. Nimira Alimohamed, Medical Oncologist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, in Calgary. “We are seeing increased volumes of cases, longer waitlists, delays in diagnostic testing and limited access to treatment. As a result, cancer caregivers have taken on many challenging roles in the last year.”

For further information: Smita Devane-Bhan

About EMD Serono, Canada
EMD Serono, Canada, is the Canadian biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. EMD Serono, Canada, has integrated cutting-edge science, innovative products and devices, and industry-leading patient support and access programs. EMD Serono, Canada, has deep expertise in neurology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as a robust pipeline of potential therapies in neurology, oncology, immunology and immuno-oncology. Today, EMD Serono, Canada has more than 100 employees across Canada, with headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario.

About Embracing Carers®
Embracing Carers® is a global initiative led by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, operating as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore, and EMD Performance Materials in the United States and Canada. It is a collaboration with leading caregiver organizations around the world designed to increase awareness, discussion, and action about the often-overlooked needs of caregivers. Given that caregivers need support and often do not know where to turn for help, Embracing Carers® was created to fill that void.

The Carer Well-being Index
As Part of EMD Serono’s global Embracing Carers® Initiative, the Carer Well-Being Index surveyed 9,044 caregivers across 12 countries, including 755 unpaid carers in Canada. To learn more about the Embracing Carers™ Initiative and for a full copy of the study, visit: