Statistics Show the Importance of Psychosocial Support for Those Impacted by Cancer

Imerman Angels was founded on the principle that one-on-one psychosocial support plays a critical role in the ability of cancer fighters, caregivers and survivors to navigate their cancer journey with a sense of hope and move forward with answers to questions provided by someone who has gone through it before – a Mentor Angel.

Through its unique and meticulous matching process, Imerman Angels strives to pair each support seeker and Mentor Angel according to the needs and desired criteria of the support seeker. Criteria include type and stage of cancer, age, gender, type of treatment and lifestyle. The ultimate goal for these matches is a positive outlook and a decrease in distress levels.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, providing “early and adequate psychosocial support” can prevent mild forms of distress from developing into acute conditions and can “help people cope better and become reconciled to everyday life. . . . Psychosocial support can be adapted in particular situations to respond to the psychological and physical needs of the people concerned, by helping them to accept the situation and cope with it.”

Those dealing with cancer have an especially great need for psychosocial support, as depression and anxiety rank among the most common mood disorders associated with cancer.

Cancer fighter/survivor statistics:

  • A study of more than 10,000 cancer fighters revealed 42 percent who demonstrated elevated levels of anxiety and 30 percent who showed elevated levels of depression.[1]
  • According to the National Cancer Institute, prevalence rates of depression in cancer patients range from 22 percent to 58 percent.
  • While up to 51.2 percent of cancer patients with elevated distress levels reported a need for psychosocial support, an additional 26.1 percent of those without elevated distress levels perceived such a need. Results were similar across distress assessment methods. [2]
  • Approximately 85 percent of cancer patients with a positive psychiatric condition were experiencing a disorder with depression or anxiety as the central symptom.[3]
  • 3 percent of cancer patients with sadness or distress reported that symptoms relief would significantly improve their quality of life.[4]

Struggles with psychological health is not limited to cancer fighters. While they can be overlooked, caregivers are also vulnerable to emotional suffering.

Caregiver statistics:

  • Historically, caregivers are an underserved population who are “at significant risk for psychiatric and medical morbidity.” They do not access psychosocial services when they are available and they prefer that psychosocial services be targeted to their own unique needs.[5]
  • During survivorship, caregivers are at greater risk for distress than patients, including significant health problems, lower quality of life, and receiving less social support than do patients. Fear of recurrence is equal if not greater among caregivers than patients.[6]
  • Currently, nearly 44 million U.S. adults serve as caregivers for family members.[7]
  • The total number of non-professional caregivers in the U.S. has been estimated to be as high as 66 million.[8]
  • Nationwide studies consistently demonstrate that caregiving impacts caregivers’ physical and mental health, financial and social circumstances and economic productivity.[9]
  • Two out of five (38 percent) caregivers report high emotional stress from the demands of caregiving.[10]

The aforementioned reports are a few of many studies that continue to demonstrate the importance of psychosocial support for quality of life.

With the study results in mind, consider the power of peer-to-peer relationships between cancer fighters and caregivers and their Mentor Angels. Support seekers get the opportunity to speak with someone who has gone through the same situation and come out on the other side. This knowledge offers them hope that they can accomplish the same feat.

Imerman Angels’ services are also completely free. Our one-on-one support is available to any cancer fighter, caregiver or survivor of any gender and any age, facing any type of cancer, at any stage level. To date, we have matched more than 29,000 people in all 50 states and more than 60 countries.

So whether you would like to speak with someone who has received the type of treatment you were prescribed, wondering how to care for someone while remaining healthy yourself or simply need encouragement from someone who understands, we would love to hear from you. Chances are, Imerman Angels can help ease some of your emotional distress.

If you are a cancer fighter, survivor or caregiver, please register here for a Mentor Angel. Together we can help ensure that no one has to face cancer alone!


[1] [Source: Journal of Affective Disorders, 2012. Cited by Stringer, H. (2014, November). “Unlocking the emotions of cancer.” Monitor on Psychology, 45(10), 36-37]
[2] [Source: Hermann Faller, Joachim Weis, Uwe Koch, Elmar Brähler, Martin Härter, Monika Keller, Holger Schulz, Karl Wegscheider, Anna Boehncke, Bianca Hund, et al. “Perceived need for psychosocial support depending on emotional distress and mental comorbidity in men and women with cancer.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2016 February; 81: 24–30. Published online 2015 December 15.]
[3] [Source: Derogatis, L. R. “The Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders among Cancer Patients.” The Journal of the American Medical Association 249.6 (1983): 751-57]
[4] [Source: Butt, Zeeshan, Lynne I. Wagner, Jennifer L. Beaumont, Judith A. Paice, Amy H. Peterman, Dan Shevrin, Jamie H. Von Roenn, George Carro, Joshua L. Straus, J. Cameron Muir, and David Cella. “Use of a Single-Item Screening Tool to Detect Clinically Significant Fatigue, Pain, Distress, and Anorexia in Ambulatory Cancer Practice.” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 35, no. 1 (2008): 20-30. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2007.02.040]
[5] [Source: Kissane, Houser & Gibson, 2008; Christakis & Allison, 2006; Rohleder et al., 2009]
[6] [Source: Kim et al., 2010, 2012; Lambert et al., 2012; Papastavrou et al., 2009]
[7] [Source: National Alliance for Caregiving and American Association of Retired Persons. Caregiving in the U.S.
June 2015]
[8] [Source: National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the U.S. 2009. November 2009]
[9] [Sources: National Alliance for Caregiving and American Association of Retired Persons. Caregiving in the U.S.
June 2015. National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the U.S. 2009. November 2009]
[10] [Source: National Alliance for Caregiving and American Association of Retired Persons. Caregiving in the U.S.
2015. June 2015]