AIM: This paper is a report of a study conducted to (1) compare means of the single items and the dimensions of the Caregiver Reaction Assessment among caregivers of frail older people and caregivers of cancer patients in the palliative phase; (2) examine gender differences for the scoring parameters in the Caregiver Reaction Assessment within each group and (3) examine the demographic variables' association with the caregiver groups' scores for the dimensions of the Caregiver Reaction Assessment. BACKGROUND: Limited research has focused on the caregiver situation in the home-care setting among primary caregivers of frail older people, and caregivers of patients with cancer in the palliative phase. METHODS: A convenience sample of 224 caregivers of frail older people, and 85 caregivers of patients with cancer in the palliative phase was recruited between 2002 and 2005. We used the Caregiver Reaction Assessment to collect the data. RESULTS: The mean scores for the Caregiver Reaction Assessment dimensions showed statistically significant differences between the two groups of caregivers for the factors self-esteem, family support, finances and health. For caregivers of frail older people, we found statistically significant associations between several demographic variables and the Caregiver Reaction Assessment dimensions. For caregivers of patients with cancer in the palliative phase, age was the only demographic variable that was statistically significantly associated with the dimensions. CONCLUSION: Healthcare personnel should pay attention to how relatives experience their caregiver situation, and the Caregiver Reaction Assessment could be a valuable tool for gathering systematic data on this.