STUDY AIMS: 1) To characterize distinct profiles of cancer caregivers' physical and mental health during the end-of-life caregiving period; 2) to identify the background and antecedent factors associated with the distinct profiles of caregivers; 3) to determine the relevance of caregiver profiles to the risk for developing prolonged grief symptoms.
DESIGN & METHODS: This study was a secondary analysis of spouses/partners (n = 198) who participated in the Cancer Caregiver Study. Latent profile mixture modeling was used to characterize caregiver health profiles from data collected prior to their spouse's death. Regression analyses were used to determine the impact of caregiver health profiles on the risk of developing prolonged grief symptoms (PG-13 scale).
RESULTS: Two health profiles were identified, one of which was comprised of a minority of caregivers (n = 49; 25%) who exhibited higher anxiety and depressive symptoms, greater health impact from caregiving, more self-reported health problems, and greater difficulty meeting physical demands of daily activities. Caregivers who were observed in this poorer health profile had significantly lower levels of active coping (p < 0.001) in adjusted models. Additionally, according to subsequent bereavement data, caregivers' preloss health profile was a significant predictor of developing prolonged grief symptoms (p = 0.018), controlling for caregivers' age (p = 0.040) and amount of active coping (p = 0.049), and there was a mediating effect of caregiver health on the relationship between active coping and prolonged grief symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS: Caregiving and bereavement should not be considered separately; caregivers adapt to bereavement with the resources and coping attained throughout the life course, culminating in the experience of providing end-of-life care. Interventions aimed at supporting caregivers and bereaved persons should focus on maintaining physical and mental health during stressful life transitions, and especially during the period in which they are providing care to a spouse at end-of-life.
BACKGROUND: Most older people wish to live in the familiar surroundings of their own home until they die. Knowledge concerning dignity and dignity loss of home-dwelling older women living with incurable cancer should be a foundation for quality of care within municipal healthcare services. The informal caregivers of these women can help increase the understanding of sources related to dignity and dignity loss.
AIM: The aim of this study was to explore informal caregivers' perceptions of sources related to dignity and dignity loss in end-of-life of older home-dwelling women with incurable cancer.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHOD: The study was founded upon Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics. In-depth interviews with 13 informal caregivers were carried out, and four participant observations were performed during home meetings.
ETHICAL CONSIDERATION: The study was based on voluntary participation, informed consent, confidentiality and the opportunity to withdraw at any time. The Norwegian Social Science Data Services approved the study.
RESULTS: Three main sources important in preserving the older women's dignity were identified: maintaining one's self-concept, remaining hopeful and sustaining freedom of choice. We also identified three main sources that lead to dignity loss: Sensing loss of human value, experiencing absence of gentleness and feelings of being treated as an object.
DISCUSSION AND FINAL CONSIDERATIONS: On the individual level, the opportunity to maintain one's self-concept and control in life, preserved dignity, while feelings of existential loneliness led to dignity loss. On the relational level, being confirmed as worthy human beings promoted the women's dignity, whereas dignity loss was related to uncaring behaviours from healthcare professionals. On the societal level, individual decisions concerning travel situations and the place to stay when nearing end-of-life were of crucial importance. Constituting these women's living space, these perspectives should be emphasized in healthcare professionals' educational training and in the municipal end-of-life care of these patients.
Persons with dementia are at high risk for loss of decision-making ability due to increased cognitive decline as the disease progresses. Participation in advance care planning (ACP) discussions in the early stages of dementia is crucial for end-of-life (EoL) decision-making to ensure quality of EoL care. A lack of discussions about ACP and EoL care between persons with dementia and family caregivers (FCGs), can lead to decisional conflicts when persons with dementia are in the later stages of the disease. This study explored the effects of a family-centered ACP information intervention among persons with dementia and FCGs. The study was conducted in outpatient clinics in Taiwan. Participants were dyads (n = 40) consisting of persons diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia and their FCGs. A one-group, pretest-posttest, pre-experimental design was employed. The intervention was provided by an ACP-trained senior registered nurse and was guided by ACP manuals and family-centered strategies. Outcome data were collected with four structured questionnaires regarding knowledge of end-stage dementia treatment, knowledge of ACP, attitude towards ACP, and EoL decisional conflict about acceptance or refusal of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, ventilators, and tracheostomy. Paired t tests compared differences between pre-intervention data and 4-weeks' post-intervention data. The intervention resulted in significant improvements among persons with dementia and FCGs for knowledge of end-stage dementia treatment (p = .008 and p < .001, respectively), knowledge of ACP (both p < .001), and significant reductions in decisional conflicts (both p < .001). Scores for positive and negative attitude toward ACP did not change for persons with dementia; however, there was a reduction in negative attitude for FCGs (p = .001). Clinical care for persons with dementia should incorporate ACP interventions that provide knowledge about EoL dementia care using family-centered care strategies that facilitate regular and continuous communication between FCGs, persons with dementia, and medical personnel to reduce decisional conflicts for EoL care.
Limited evidence suggests carers of people with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) have a variety of information and support needs. This pilot focus group discussion, carried out in 2019, aimed to explore the needs of carers of people with pulmonary fibrosis and evaluate the impact of a UK hospice PF carers’ support group. Analysis revealed: (1) loneliness and connection, (2) negotiating with and motivating their loved-ones, and (3) the importance of the best environment for support as key themes. Participants reported a need for both practical and emotional support with the carers’ own health sometimes neglected. This evaluation concluded that peer support specifically with other PF carers was hugely valuable to the participants, as was the hospice environment itself. It is recommended that PF-specific carer support is considered when designing services for people with pulmonary fibrosis.
BACKGROUND: Few studies have focused on patients' emotional distress with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and their main family caregivers.
METHODS: Cross-sectional data about emotional, functional, and burden-related variables were collected from 85 patients with end-stage COPD and their 85 respective main family caregivers to determine the variables that could predict their emotional well-being. Descriptive analyses, comparison of means, hierarchical regression models, and comparative quali-quantitative analyses were carried out.
RESULTS: Data show that the great majority of patients with COPD spend years with this diagnosis, and have been admitted to the hospital several times in advance stage of illness the previous year of the moment of end-of-life stage. Furthermore, only a tiny percentage of the patients were functionally independent in the advanced stage of illness.
CONCLUSIONS: The emotional distress and the burden of the family caregiver play an essential role in the distress of the patient, in conjunction with the patient's own functional independence and the time living with the disease, and comorbidity. On the other hand, variables of the patient, such as time since diagnosis, number of hospital admissions, comorbidity, functional dependence, and emotional distress, play an important role in the family caregiver's emotional distress and burden. Understanding how these variables are related is key to designing appropriate programs to reduce the emotional distress the patients with COPD at the end of life and their family caregivers.
BACKGROUND: A growing number of informal caregivers (IFCs) manage hospice patients' anxiety by administering lorazepam (Ativan), yet little is known about prescribing practices in home care or the extent to which IFCs carry out regimens.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Data on hospice prescribed lorazepam was determined through a retrospective review of medication records from 216 deceased patients. The dose of lorazepam and type of regimen (i.e., scheduled, PRN, combination) as well as frequency with which it was administered by IFCs was calculated upon admission to a residential care home and on patients' day of death.
RESULTS: The majority (63.1%) of patients were prescribed lorazepam on admission to the home, and more (79.5%) were prescribed lorazepam on the day of death. While higher doses of lorazepam were prescribed and administered on the day of death, the percentage of medication consumed was low on admission (17%) and day of death (27%). Nearly all (92.8%) prescribed lorazepam on the day of death were allowed PRN medication. For PRN only regimens, less than a quarter (24.4%) of patients were given lorazepam on admission with less than half (40.4%) given it while dying. Highest lorazepam administration rates (91.2%) occurred on the day of death when lorazepam was prescribed under a combined regimen.
CONCLUSION: The high frequency of PRN regimens reveal that IFCs are frequently tasked with making decisions about if and when to administer lorazepam. Low overall lorazepam administration suggests a closer monitoring of lorazepam use and enhanced support of IFCs may be needed.
Background: Many studies report on the patient-caregiver relationship during palliative care (PC); however, this relationship has yet to be examined following traumatic injury.
Methods : This prospective cohort study included trauma patients (=55 years) and their primary caregivers admitted at two level I trauma centers over two years (11/16-11/18), who received PC and who completed satisfaction surveys prior to discharge; surveys were analyzed by four domains: information giving, availability of care, physical care, and psychosocial care; and by PC assessments: consultations, prognostications, formal family meetings, and advanced goals of care discussions. The primary outcome was the percentage of patients and caregivers who were satisfied (defined as =80%) and was analyzed using McNemar’s test. Adjusted mixed models identified PC assessments that were associated with satisfaction =80% for patients and caregivers.
Results : Of the 441 patient- and 441 caregiver-pairs, caregivers were significantly less satisfied than patients during prognostications, (information giving; physical care), formal family meetings (information giving; physical care), and consultations (physical care), while caregivers were significantly more satisfied than patients during advanced goals of care discussions (availability of care; psychosocial care). After adjustment, significant predictors of caregiver satisfaction (=80%) included longer patient hospital LOS (>4 days), caring for a male patient (physical care; availability of care), higher caregiver age (=55 years: availability of care), and higher patient age (=65 years: psychosocial care). Conversely, all PC assessments decreased odds of satisfaction for caregivers in every domain except physical care. Significant predictors of higher patient satisfaction included formal family meetings (for every domain) and PC consultations (psychosocial care), and decreased odds included advanced goals of care discussions and prognostication assessments (information giving; psychosocial care).
Conclusions : PC increased satisfaction of patients, especially family meetings and consultations, while assessments were predictive of lower caregiver satisfaction, suggesting that caregivers may be experiencing some of the patient burden.
Research on understanding health-related decision-making terminology among family caregivers of adults living with advanced cancer is lacking. The purpose of this study was to examine interpretations of the meaning of health-related decision-making terminology such as quality-of-life and end-of-life among caregivers of adults living with advanced cancer as a basis for improved understanding of caregiver decision support needs. Interviews were conducted with a purposive sub-sample of 10 caregivers of adults diagnosed with advanced cancer who completed a longitudinal, descriptive study (NRO14856) of factors influencing cancer care decisions. Audio transcripts were analyzed using qualitative descriptive methods. Caregivers described interpretations of the meaning and process of decision-making and decision-related distress. Caregivers were uncertain about the meaning of end-of-life-related terminology, and a placed high value on quality-of-life and faith/spirituality in the decision-making process. Improvements in information and decision support interventions are needed to better support caregivers and subsequently patients towards informed cancer care decisions.
Background: Home-based palliative care (HBPC) is an important aspect of care for patients with moderate to advanced stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and their caregivers. HBPC provides symptom management, advanced care planning and goals of care conversations in the home, with the goal of maximizing quality of life and minimizing health care utilization. There is a gap in the knowledge of how the patients with COPD and their caregivers experience HBPC. The overall purpose of this study is to describe which aspects of HBPC were the most meaningful to patients with COPD, and their caregivers.
Methods: Through a descriptive design with narrative analysis methodology, we interviewed COPD patients and their caregivers to investigate their experience of HBPC received in the 30 days post hospitalization for a COPD exacerbation. A thematic analysis was conducted and the patient and caregiver interviews were analyzed in dyad using thematic analysis.
Results: A total of 10 dyads were interviewed. Patients and their caregivers perceived 3 times as many facilitators as barriers of receiving home-based palliative care in the 30 days post hospitalization for a COPD exacerbation. The outcomes of this study provide information that describes the aspects of HBPC that patients and their caregivers found most meaningful.
Conclusion: An understanding of the most meaningful aspects of HBPC from the perspectives of the patients with COPD and their caregivers can be used to inform the development of the best model for HBPC for this patient population.
CONTEXT: Hospice deaths in the U.S. are increasing. Dying hospice patients may have rapidly emerging needs the hospice team cannot immediately meet, exposing family caregivers to fright-inducing (i.e., scary) situations.
OBJECTIVE: Examine relationships between hospice care and family caregiver exposures and psychological responses to witnessing common, distressing patient symptoms near the end of life.
METHODS: Secondary analysis of prospective, cohort study of 169 patients with advanced cancer and their family caregivers were analyzed. Multivariable regression analyses modeled associations between hospice use and caregiver exposures and psychological responses (fear and helplessness) to witnessing distressing symptoms common near death, adjusting for potential confounding influences (e.g. home death, patient characteristics, and suffering). Caregiver self-reported exposures and responses to observing patient symptoms during the last month of life were assessed using the validated Stressful Caregiving Response to Experiences of Dying (SCARED) scale.
RESULTS: Hospice care was significantly, positively associated with more exposures and negative psychological responses to distressing patient symptoms, adjusting for home death, patient characteristics and physical and mental suffering. On average, hospice patients' caregivers scored 1.6 points higher on the SCARED exposure scale and 6.2 points higher on the SCARED psychological response scale than caregivers of patients without hospice (exposure: 10.53 versus 8.96; psychological responses: 29.85 versus 23.67). Patient pain/discomfort, delirium, and difficulty swallowing/choking were reported by three-fourths of caregivers and were associated with the most fear and helplessness among caregivers.
CONCLUSION: Hospice care is associated with more exposures to and caregiver fear and helplessness in response to "scary" patient experiences. Research is needed to understand how better to support family caregivers of hospice patients to enable them to cope with common, distressing symptoms of dying cancer patients. Hospice clinicians providing additional education and training about these symptoms might enable caregivers to better care for dying loved ones and reduce the stresses of end-of-life caregiving.
BACKGROUND: The number of centenarians in Europe is increasing; many face health impairments. Adult children often play a key role in their care, but there is a lack of research into what it means for these caregiving relatives to be confronted for many years with their parents' end of life (EOL), dying and death as well as their own advancing age.
AIM: This study aims to analyse the challenges of caregiving adult children regarding their parents' end of life and the related burdens and barriers they report.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 caregivers following a theory-based and tested guideline. The computer-aided coding and evaluation followed the structured content analysis approach.
RESULTS: The analysis showed three main themes: 'Confronting EOL', 'Communicating about death and dying' and 'Assisting in the terminal phase'. The respondents commented on burdensome demands and concerns about the future. Further, a strong underlying presence of intra- and interpersonal conflicts relating to EOL became apparent.
DISCUSSION: The results indicate several potential burdens for centenarians' caregiving offspring. They are confronted with a double challenge resulting from the combination of their own advanced age and experiencing the burdens of their parents' very old age. Further, some participants struggled with their own unclear perspective on the future because of the relative but unclear proximity of the parent's death. Multiple conflicts and overlapping conflict dimensions emphasise the potential of the EOL topic to influence the well-being of family caregivers and care recipients.
LIMITATIONS: The convenience sample used for the study may cause limitations, for example, the fact that persons with a formally lower educational status are not represented.
CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that interventions designed for family-related care situations should include topics like 'Finiteness and grief', 'Communicating about dying and death' and 'Decisions and dispositions at EOL'.
BACKGROUND: Caring for loved ones with palliative needs can be very stressful for carers'. To address this growing issue, an online Home Caregiver Support Program course was created to provide information to non-professional home caregivers about end-of-life care.
OBJECTIVES: To measure non-professional caregivers' perceived level of competence in addressing physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs before and after completing online training modules.
METHODS: Learners rated their competence before and after completing online modules addressing 4 key dimensions relevant to palliative caregivers. Self-ratings of competence were assessed through surveys, completed before and after the online modules. Scores from before and after each module were compared to determine if the online course had increased participant competence. The Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to analyze participant responses to the pre- and post-survey questions.
RESULTS: A total of 176 participants who completed one or more of the online modules between July 2017-December 2018, 70 (40%) of the participants completed at least one pre- and post-module survey and did not declare themselves as a professional caregiver. Participating in the online Home Caregiver Support Program increased participants' ratings of perceived competence in all domains (p < .01). This significance was maintained when professional caregivers were added to our analysis.
CONCLUSION: After the completing the modules, participants' self-ratings of perceived competence increased suggesting that participants completing the online program had improved knowledge in addressing the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual challenges faced by non-professional caregivers.
Introduction : Les personnes atteintes de cancer et vivant à domicile sont de plus en plus en nombreuses. Les proches aidants sont des acteurs importants auprès de la personne malade. Ils sont confrontés, à ce titre, aux douleurs cancéreuses sévères de leur proche. La douleur est l’un des symptômes les plus fréquents en cancérologie, souvent insuffisamment soulagée. L’objectif de cette étude était de mieux connaître la perception qu’ont les proches aidants de leur rôle à domicile, particulièrement vis-à-vis de la douleur liée au cancer et de ses traitements.
Méthode : Une étude qualitative a été menée au moyen d’entretiens semi-dirigés auprès de proches aidants de patients atteints d’un cancer en phase palliative spécifique ou symptomatique et présentant des douleurs nécessitant l’administration d’opioïdes. Les thèmes explorés ont été la communication, l’anticipation, la coordination, l’accompagnement et l’adaptation.
Résultats : Douze entretiens ont été réalisés. La plupart des proches aidants disent se rendre disponibles pour le confort du patient, la surveillance des symptômes et l’usage des opioïdes. Ces derniers sont sources de nombreux questionnements. En outre, les proches aidants se sentent responsables de tout faire et de s’organiser pour faire face à la douleur. Enfin, ils se considèrent comme les mieux placés pour soutenir au quotidien le patient, tant pour les aspects pratiques que socio-affectifs. Les professionnels de santé, en particulier les infirmiers libéraux, sont des éléments importants sur lesquels ils peuvent s’appuyer.
Discussion : L’enjeu pour les proches aidants est de conforter leur rôle dans le soulagement des douleurs du malade à domicile. Communiquer, coordonner les différents acteurs et participer aux prises de décision sont les moyens d’y parvenir mais ces fonctions sont variables dans le temps. Il convient de trouver l’équilibre dans la charge qui leur incombe. Cela invite les professionnels à être attentifs à leurs besoins en proposant une aide flexible et adaptée à chaque situation.
Faire reconnaître le rôle central des aidants profanes et rappeler le caractère indispensable de leur contribution fait aujourd’hui partie des principaux besoins que les aidants revendiquent explicitement, tant vis-à-vis des professionnels avec qui ils collaborent, que vis-à-vis des pouvoirs publics. Dans un contexte de plus forte sensibilisation à leur égard, c’est aussi l’ambition de ce numéro de Gérontologie et société, qui se propose à la fois de définir et de renseigner ce que recouvre la notion de proches aidants auprès de personnes âgées mais également de comprendre la nature de leurs engagements et de leurs expériences. Comment ces aidants pensent-ils leur rôle et envisagent-ils leur situation ? Quels sont les ressorts et les logiques sociales qui déterminent leurs investissements et leurs manières d’aider ? Dans quelle mesure sont-ils épaulés et comment s’accommodent-ils des services qui leurs sont proposés ? Sur la base d’une sélection de 9 articles, retenus pour leur diversité d’approche disciplinaire et territoriale, les contributions présentes dans ce numéro offrent un témoignage concret du profil hétérogène de ces aidants, de l’extrême diversité des tâches qu’ils accomplissent mais aussi des difficultés qu’ils sont susceptibles de rencontrer au quotidien. Plus fondamentalement encore, ils interrogent la situation d’aide, l’intimité des relations entre aidants et aidés et démontrent l’impérieuse nécessité à poursuivre les efforts pour soutenir ces proches aidants dans leur travail quotidien d’accompagnement.
OBJECTIVES: We examined how caregivers who had cared for a relative at end of life (EoL) wished to be cared for in the event that they experienced advanced dementia or physical disability in the future, and what factors influenced their preferences for EoL care.
METHODS: In this mixed-methods study, 83 participants, recruited from multiple sources in Israel, were interviewed concerning socio-demographic factors, health status, past experience with EoL, preference for extension of life vs. quality of life (QoL), willingness to be dependent on others, and preferences for EoL care.
RESULTS: In case of advanced dementia, 58% preferred euthanasia or suicide; around a third chose those for physical disability. Care by family members was the least desired form of care in the advanced dementia scenario, although more desirable than institutional care in the physical disability scenario. QoL was rated as the highest factor impacting preferences for EoL care. Men demonstrated a higher preference than women for extension of life over QoL.
CONCLUSION: Our study points to the need for society to consider solutions to the request of participants to reject the type of EoL experienced by their relatives. Those solutions include investing in improving the quality of life at the end of life, and offering alternatives such as euthanasia, which a large proportion of our participants found ethically and medically appropriate within the current system of care in the event of severe physical disability, and more so in the event of advanced dementia.
BACKGROUND: Although family-centered communication about end-of-life care has been recognized to promote palliative-oriented care in nursing home (NH), how this communication may work is still unknown. Therefore, we explored the mechanisms by which end-of-life communication may contribute to palliative-oriented care in NH from the perspective of bereaved family carers.
METHODS: A descriptive qualitative design was performed. Interviews were conducted with 32 bereaved family carers whose relative had died between 45 days to 9 months prior from 13 different NHs. A two-steps analysis process firstly with deductive and then with inductive content analysis was adopted.
RESULTS: Four mechanisms by which end-of-life communication contributed to palliative-oriented care were identified: a) promoting family carers understanding about their relative's health conditions, prognosis, and treatments available; b) fostering shared decision-making between healthcare professionals and residents/family carers; c) improving knowledge of residents' preferences; and d) improving knowledge of family carers' preferences.
CONCLUSION: Clear and in-depth communication provides insight into residents' and family carers' preferences for care and treatment at the end-of-life, and increases understanding and shared decision-making.
Background: Family caregiving is common globally, but when a family member needs palliative and end-of-life care, this requires knowledge and expertise in dealing with symptoms, medication, and treatment side effects. Caring for a family member with advanced prostate cancer in the home presents practical and emotional challenges, especially in resource-poor contexts, where there are increasing palliative cases without adequate palliative care institutions.
Aim: The study explored palliative and end-of-life care experiences of family caregivers and patients living at home in a resource-poor context in Ghana.
Design: This is a qualitative study using thematic analysis of face-to-face interviews at two-time points.
Participants: Men living with advanced prostate cancer (n = 23), family caregivers (n = 23), healthcare professionals (n = 12).
Findings: Men with advanced prostate cancer face complex issues, including lack of access to professional care and a lack of resources for homecare. Family caregivers do not have easy access to professional support; they often have limited knowledge of disease progression. Patients have inadequate access to medication and other practical resources for homecare. Caregivers may be overburdened and perform the role of the patient’s ‘doctor’ at home-assessing patient’s symptoms, administering drugs, and providing hands-on care.
Conclusion: Home-based care is promoted as an ideal and cost-effective model of care, particularly in Westernised palliative care models. However, in resource-poor contexts, there are significant challenges associated with the implementation of this model. This study revealed the scale of challenges family caregivers, who lack basic training on aspects of caring, face in providing home care unsupported by healthcare professionals.
BACKGROUND: The attention of healthcare professionals is directed mainly towards the recipients of care and often insufficiently towards family carers. However, an effective collaboration between professionals and family carers is vital to provide quality palliative and end-of-life care. Such collaboration is under-studied in a palliative care context.
AIM: This study aimed to investigate how family carers of people who live at home with a life-limiting chronic illness experience and perceive collaboration with different healthcare professionals in the last phase of life.
DESIGN: Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with the primary family carers of people with a life-limiting chronic illness. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the data.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A heterogeneous sample of 30 family carers of people with cancer, heart failure or dementia was recruited through a variety of care providers and services, in order to reflect the heterogeneity of caregiving in serious illness.
RESULTS: Five main themes emerged from interpretative phenomenological analysis that describe the quality of the collaboration between family carers and professionals: respecting family carers both as someone with care needs and as a member of the care team; the continuous availability and accessibility of healthcare professionals; the provision of information and communication including family carer issues; the coordination of care between all parties and contextual factors. The dominant experience by family carers was one of missed opportunities across these themes.
CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative study about the experiences and perceptions of family carers of people with a chronic life-limiting illness living at home regarding the collaboration with different healthcare providers in the last phase life, showed that family carers experience a lot of possibilities, but perceive missed opportunities as well, for healthcare professionals to effectively collaborate with them for palliative care.