Background: The impact of neobladder and urostomy on bladder cancer patient’s health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) is controversial and many issues currently remain under-investigated. Initial studies pointed out that the emotional responses of caregivers might be ‘contagious’, influencing emotional reactions in bladder cancer patients undergoing radical cystectomy.
Methods: Three hundred and eighty-two bladder cancer patients (aged M = 67.29 years; SD = 9.23) (16.9% (65) were female and 82.9% (319) were male) and their caregivers were enrolled. Data were collected prospectively: at T0 (1 month before the surgery), at T1 (2 weeks after the surgery, at patient discharge from the hospital) and at T2 (6-month follow-up). At each time point (T0, T1 and T2), a set of questionnaires (EORT QLQ-C30 and emotion thermometer) were given to patients and their caregivers.
Results: All patients reported a general improvement in the HR-QoL and global health status/QoL from T0 to T2 (p < 0.001). No significant differences were observed between neobladder and urostomy. At T0, the emotional thermometer total scoring in caregivers was positive in relation to HR-QoL (p < 0.001) and negative in relation to the patient’s perception of QoL (p < 0.001) and global health (p < 0.001). Similar trends were observed at T1 and T2.
Conclusions: These results suggest that patients and their caregiver’s emotional reactions to cancer are deep-rooted and strongly interconnected, and they provide innovative insights for the clinical management of bladder cancer patients.