Purpose: Social support is an important factor in reducing caregiver burden, however, accessing social support via traditional means is often challenging for family caregivers of hospice patients. Online support groups may offer an effective solution. The present study sought to understand dynamics of online social support among family and other informal (e.g., friends) caregivers of hospice cancer patients in an online social support group. The primary aim of the study was to identify types of online social support and support-seeking behaviors, with a secondary aim to understand informal hospice caregivers’ preferences for social support.
Method: Data used in this study were collected as part of a federally funded randomized clinical trial of an informal hospice cancer caregiver support intervention. Findings are based on directed and conventional content analysis of support group members' posts and comments—including text and images—and a sample of caregivers’ exit interviews.
Results: Analyses demonstrated that the majority of online support provided by group members was emotional support, followed by companionship support, appraisal support, and informational support. Instrumental support was rarely provided. Support was primarily elicited in an indirect manner through self-disclosure and patient updates, with few overt requests for support.
Conclusions: Findings suggest online social support groups can be a valuable resource for informal caregivers who are in need of emotional support and lack the ability to access face-to-face support groups. Clinical implications of this research to healthcare systems regarding the importance of incorporating nurses and other medical professionals as co-facilitators of online support groups are discussed.
Few studies have explored the inter-relationships of sources of social support and caregiving self-efficacy with caregiver burden and patient's quality of life among patients with palliative care needs and their caregivers. This study tested the associations of two sources of social support (family and friends) and the mediating role of caregiving self-efficacy on caregiver burden and patient's quality of life. A convenience sample of 225 patient-caregiver dyads recruited between September 2016 and May 2017 from three hospitals in Hong Kong was included in the current analysis. Results showed that the final model provided a satisfactory fit (SRMR = 0.070, R-RMSEA = 0.055 and R-CFI = 0.926) with the data, as good as the hypothesized model did (p = 0.326). Significant associations were detected. Family support had a significant negative indirect effect on caregiver burden and a significant positive indirect effect on patient's quality of life through caregiving self-efficacy, whereas friend support had a significant positive direct effect on caregiver burden but a minimal effect, if any, on patient's quality of life. These findings emphasized (1) the importance of caregiving self-efficacy in improving caregiver burden and patient's quality of life and that (2) sources of social support may be an important dimension moderating the associations of caregiving self-efficacy with caregiver burden and patient's quality of life.
BACKGROUND: Few studies have specifically addressed quality of life issues for elderly hospice patients. The purpose of this study is to explore various factors and service patterns of the quality of life of end-of-life care for the elderly.
METHODS: We collect the data and make small-scale exploratory study via semi-structured individual interviews. Data were collected from the family of 2 elderly cancer patients receiving hospice services, and the data were analyzed qualitatively.
RESULTS: After investigation, we found that elderly people in hospice care, regardless of age, are suffering from physical and psychological pain and do not want to spend the rest of their lives in the hospital, but want to die in their own homes.
CONCLUSIONS: Both hospitalization and in-home care can improve resource utilization, and the key is to find various factors affecting the quality of life. Improving the quality of life is what patients and their families need most.
Background: There is an international drive towards increasing provision of community-led models of social and practical support for people living with advanced illness.
Aim: This feasibility project aims to develop, implement and evaluate a model of community volunteers, identified as Compassionate Communities Connectors, to support people living with advanced life limiting illnesses/palliative care needs. The aims also include the development and evaluation of a training programme for volunteers and assessment of the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary effectiveness of this model of care.
Methods: The approach seeks to map and mobilise people's personal networks of care through the Connectors enlisting Caring Helpers (community volunteers). Up to 10 Connectors will be trained to work with at least 30 families selected by the palliative care service as requiring support. The primary outcome is the effect of the intervention on social connectedness. Secondary outcomes are the intervention's effect on unplanned hospital utilisation, caregiver support needs, advance care plans and satisfaction with intervention for patients/carers, volunteers and service providers.
Conclusion: It is expected that this intervention will enhance patient, carer and family social, psychological and practical support and reduce the need for dying people to be admitted to a hospital.
BACKGROUND: Nationally, only one-third of children survive to hospital discharge after initial presentation with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Of those children who survive, less than 25% leave the hospital at their functional baseline. Given these poor outcomes, such patients could benefit from palliative care involvement.
AIMS: To characterize the existing use and identify barriers to seeking palliative care consults in children admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with OHCA.
DESIGN: Mixed-methods quasi-experimental study.
PARTICIPANTS: Physicians (MD/DO), nurse practitioners, and registered nurses who provide care in the PICU.
RESULTS: Overall, nurses felt palliative care was consulted "not nearly enough" (43%), while the majority of physicians (53.9%) perceived palliative care services are requested either "just the right amount" (30.8%) or "too often" (23.1%). The top 3 desired palliative services were (1) patient and family psychosocial support, (2) assistance with determining goals of care, and (3) counseling and education. Barriers to consults were forgetting/not thinking about consulting, and family refusal of palliative care consult. No statistical differences among participant groups were found for likelihood to consult palliative care, unless the patient faced imminent death.
CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit providers desire assistance from palliative care teams for help with identifying goals of care, providing psychosocial support, as well as education to the patients and their families. Unfortunately, there remains a large discrepancy between physicians and nurses when it comes to how often palliative care is, and should, be consulted.
Access to data on quality metrics can better equip palliative care social workers to identify and address gaps in patient care, establish standards and accountability for social work functions on the interdisciplinary team, and evaluate the impact of interventions. The objective of this demonstration project was to create and pilot a data collection format in the patient electronic medical record (Epic) for documentation of social work metrics at each inpatient consultation, and to build corresponding pilot reports relevant to quality improvement goals. The successful implementation and initial pilot reports were reviewed for the feasibility of longer-term applications.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between social support (from personal and workplace sources) and psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms), as well as to examine the mediating role of satisfaction with work-family balance among hospice nurses.
DESIGN AND METHOD: A cross-sectional study design was utilized with a sample of 90 hospice nurses from the southern United States. Participants completed online surveys, including (a) the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21), (b) loosely adapted items from the Affectivity, Burnout, and Absenteeism Scales, and (c) Satisfaction with Work-Family Balance Scale.
FINDINGS: Workplace social support, not personal social support, was associated with lower psychological distress, and satisfaction with work-family balance mediated the relationship between workplace social support and depression symptoms, a component of psychological distress.
CONCLUSIONS: Hospice nurses' social support in the workplace and their satisfaction with the balance between their work and family lives play a role in supporting their mental health.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Hospice nurses may benefit from programs fostering the creation of workplace-based interpersonal relationships.
This qualitative study examined the influence of hospice photography on patients' end-of-life experiences, families' experiences with hospice and grief, and hospice social work practice. Hospice photography was defined in this study as photographs of hospice patients taken by social workers in the service of legacy construction. Six social workers were interviewed about the photographs they had previously taken of patients. The themes revealed were categorized as hospice photography's perceived and potential effects on patients, families, and practice and the role of smartphone technology. The data suggested that hospice photography may positively affect patients, families, and practice due to its reported ability to build and enhance rapport, facilitate therapeutic discussion, affirm patients' dignity, worth, and self-esteem, provide opportunities for bearing witness, and increase social workers' job satisfaction. Potential effects of the use of hospice photography in social work practice included the ability to tangibly contextualize the end-of-life experience; improve termination and closure; and provide comfort during the grieving process.
Objective: To describe trends in hospice social work visits in the last week of life before and after the introduction of the service intensity add-on (SIA) payment reform in 2016.
Background: SIA was introduced to compensate hospices for the intensity of caring for individuals at the end of life; it is an hourly rate paid for registered nurse and social worker visits occurring during the last week of a beneficiary's life. Little is known about how hospices responded to this payment incentive.
Design: This is a pre-post descriptive study.
Setting/Subjects: Subjects were 2015–2016 hospices caring for Medicare beneficiaries.
Results: We find a modest increase in social work visits in the last week of life from 2015 (pre-SIA) to 2016 (post-SIA). This modest increase masks significant variation based on organizational characteristics, such as size, facility type, and participation in payment demonstrations.
Discussion: Our findings underscore the importance of examining both the overall impact of this type of policy and the change in distribution to identify whether change is being realized uniformly or is associated with certain types of organizations. A number of potential barriers exist to responding to policy incentives that may not be evenly felt across the hospice community.
Palliative care (PC) is perhaps the most inherently interdisciplinary specialty within health care. Comprehensive PC is delivered by a core team of physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual care providers, pharmacists, and others who address the broad range of medical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of those living with serious illness. While PC clinicians are typically skilled in screening for distress, the best path to follow when patients screen positive for psychosocial distress or exhibit mental health challenges may not always be clear. This article brings together the perspectives of experienced social workers practicing across PC and hospice settings. It seeks to identify opportunities and rationale for the integration of palliative social work (PSW) in the provision of quality, person-centered, family-focused, and culturally congruent care for the seriously ill. Increasing recognition of the impact of social determinants of health highlights the critical importance of including PSW if we are to better understand and ultimately address the broad range of factors that influence people's quality of life.
Background: Parenting a child with a serious life-threatening illness (SLTI) may impact parents' mental health. The protective association of social support with anxiety over time following an acute medical event has not been empirically tested in a sample of parents of children with oncologic and nononcologic serious illnesses.
Objective: To test the potential association of perceived social support with anxiety in parents of children with SLTIs over time.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: Two hundred parents of 158 children in the Decision Making in Serious Pediatric Illness study, conducted at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Measurements: Parental anxiety and perceived social support were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the Social Provisions Scale (SPS). We performed bivariate linear regressions to test cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between the SPS and anxiety scores at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months.
Results: The average SPS total and subscale scores decreased significantly from baseline to 12 months, and increased from 12 to 24 months. The average HADS-Anxiety scores decreased significantly from baseline to 12 months, and remained stable at 24 months. Cross-sectionally, total SPS scores were negatively associated with anxiety scores at each time point. Longitudinally, SPS scores were associated with anxiety scores, although this association weakened in adjusted modeling.
Conclusions: Over a two-year period, higher levels of perceived social support were associated with lower levels of anxiety in parents of seriously ill children. Clinicians and researchers should work to optimize social support for families to improve parental mental health outcomes.
This article introduces a cartography tool to help social workers work with and support family caregivers. This tool aims to determine (1) which caregivers are likely to need additional support during bereavement and (2) what resources the caregiver has that care teams can rely on for decision-making and planning. The purpose of this article is to present a preliminary assessment of the cartography based on the feedback collected from potential users regarding the tool's content and usage.
Background: Mobile health (mHealth) is a promising tool for improving health outcomes. However, the benefits of using mHealth in palliative care are under studied.
Objective: As a first step to designing meaningful palliative care-specific mobile applications, this research explored provider perspectives regarding the utility of mHealth in palliative care.
Design: A qualitative phenomenological study with semistructured interviews.
Setting/Subjects: roviders from multiple disciplines working in palliative care settings at an academic medical center.
Results: Thematic analysis resulted in five provider recommendations regarding the utility and design of palliative care-specific mHealth, including (i) thoughtfulness to language, context, and delivery when assessing palliative care needs; (ii) include tools for prognosis and advance care planning; (iii) tailor health and quality-of-life goals; (iv) emphasize supports for family and caregivers; and (v) consider technology abilities of older adults.
Conclusions: Palliative care providers are enthusiastic about the use of mHealth to improve care coordination, facilitate communication, enhance symptom monitoring, and improve patient-family support. However, providers have reservations about mobile functionality and depersonalized assessment and care. Providers stress the utility of mHealth to facilitate palliative care rather than replace important multidisciplinary services.
Discussing sexual health with healthcare patients and their partners is difficult and often avoided. The PLISSIT model is a framework to effectively initiate the conversation about sexual concerns. This rapid review and small meta-analysis explores and clarifies knowledge about the effectiveness of PLISSIT in resolving sexual dysfunction and glean insight into its utility as a social work intervention in a palliative care setting. Evidence from 15 interventional studies was synthesized. Cohen’s d-index served as the meta-analytic effect size statistic for each individual study. Significant ds were converted to Cohen’s U3 statistic to aid in practical interpretations. Between-study heterogeneity was evaluated with Cochran’s Q statistic to examine possible relationships between effect sizes and moderator variables. Statistically and practically significant evidence revealed that PLISSIT is effective in treating sexual dysfunction (d = 1.00, U3 = 84%, 95% CI = 1.06, 1.08): 84% of participants who received PLISSIT interventions scored lower on sexual dysfunction measures than did the typical participant in the comparison condition. Study design and frequency of intervention delivery moderated the overall effect. The findings and inferences may be best thought of as developed hypotheses for future research testing.
BACKGROUND: Home care of children with life-limiting diseases is extremely challenging for parents/family caregivers and their social environment. In order to gain new insights into the perspective of family caregivers, we employed digital Network Maps for the first time in the field of pediatric palliative care.
AIM: To examine whether the use of Network Maps helps to identify and visualize significant members of the social support system and the quality of the relationship, as well as the main areas of life that are experienced as being supportive by each individual.
DESIGN: The design was an integrated mixed methods study. Creation of Network Maps was assessed in conjunction with qualitative interviews. In addition, participants gave an oral feedback on the Network Maps themselves.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Parents of patients supported by a Specialized Home Pediatric Palliative Care team were eligible for inclusion. Forty-five parents were enrolled in the study.
RESULTS: All mothers and fathers were able to generate their individual Network Map without problems. The composition of the support systems differed greatly, even between members of the same family. Parents named on average 11 supporting actors, mainly family members and health care professionals. Some relationships were perceived as helpful and stressful at the same time.
CONCLUSION: Network Maps appear to be an appropriate tool for the collection, reconstruction, and assessment of the current support situation of parents of dying children. Further studies should examine the usefulness of Network Maps for the understanding of the caregivers' support needs and for the development of psychosocial interventional strategies by pediatric palliative care teams.
Palliative care is patient- and family-centered care that enhances quality of life throughout the illness trajectory and can ease the symptoms, discomfort, and stress for children living with life-threatening conditions and their families. This paper aims to increase nurses' and other healthcare providers' awareness of selected recent research initiatives aimed at enhancing life and decreasing suffering for these children and their families. Topics were selected based on identified gaps in the pediatric palliative care literature. Published articles and authors' ongoing research were used to describe selected components of pediatric palliative nursing care including (I) examples of interventions (legacy and animal-assisted interventions); (II) international studies (parent-sibling bereavement, continuing bonds in Ecuador, and circumstances surrounding deaths in Honduras); (III) recruitment methods; (IV) communication among pediatric patients, their parents, and the healthcare team; (V) training in pediatric palliative care; (VI) nursing education; and (VII) nurses' role in supporting the community. Nurses are in ideal roles to provide pediatric palliative care at the bedside, serve as leaders to advance the science of pediatric palliative care, and support the community.
Background and Objectives: Advance care planning (ACP) is a critical component of health care affecting the quality of later life. Responding to the increase in the older immigrant population in the United States, this empirical study explored the racial/ethnic gaps in ACP behaviors among older immigrants and examined the end-of-life (EOL) care planning and preferences of foreign-born immigrant older adults focusing on race/ethnicity, acculturation, health need factors, and enabling social factors (financial capability, public assistance, and informal supports) after controlling predisposing factors (sociodemographic characteristics).
Research Design and Methods: Using a subsample from the National Health and Aging Trends Study 2011 and 2012, hierarchical logistic regression models of the EOL plan and preferences were examined with 50 multiple imputation data sets (n = 232).
Results: Descriptive statistics reveal lower ACP engagement of immigrants from racial/ethnic minority groups. In logistic models, however, only Black immigrants were less likely than Whites to have EOL conversations. Among acculturation factors, age at immigration was only negatively associated with having a durable power of attorney for health, but not significantly associated with other ACP behaviors. Instead, health and social factors, primarily need in health and informal support (i.e., number of coresidents and receiving financial help from family members), were associated with different types of ACP components. Receiving public assistance (i.e., receiving Medicaid and SSI) were positively associated with EOL treatment preferences.
Discussion and Implications: Older foreign-born immigrants, in general, showed lower ACP engagement than the overall older population. Moreover, minority immigrants were lower on ACP engagement than both White immigrants. This study highlights the need for formal and informal assistance for enhancing EOL planning for older immigrants. Adding to the culturally competent approach, policy efforts should address social and health factors that accrued throughout individuals' life spans and affect older immigrants' EOL preparation and care.
The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between attitudes toward planning for end-of-life (EOL) care and social supports, spirituality, distrust of the US healthcare system, and acculturation; and to investigate a relationship between attitudes and communication of EOL wishes in Iranian-American older adults. A descriptive, cross-sectional study was used. Older adults (N = 135) were surveyed using Qualtrics online software. The participants were new immigrants to the U.S., highly educated, and insured with a generally positive self-reported health status. Of this sample, 47.4% reported that they communicated their EOL wishes orally or through written documentation. Favorable attitudes toward planning were associated with acculturation and healthcare system distrust, and, inversely, were negatively associated with spirituality. No significant association was found between attitudes and social support. Favorable attitudes predicted participants’ communication of wishes. The findings can inform the provision of effective interventions to enhance culturally competent EOL care.
BACKGROUND: Women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) experience unique symptom management and psychosocial needs due to aggressive, yet palliative treatment with a progressive, chronic illness.
OBJECTIVE: This article describes the effect of a quality improvement project for coordination of supportive care in MBC. Program evaluations included referral rates for supportive services, patient-reported outcomes of symptom distress, generalized anxiety, and overall well-being.
DESIGN: An interdisciplinary Support, Education and Advocacy Program (MBC-SEA) was developed. The 1-hour, weekly, patient review included collaborative assessments to determine needs for social service, psychological counseling, and palliative care. A prospective pre- and postexperimental cohort design with convenience sampling was used. Analysis was conducted with paired t test analysis of pre- and postimplementation outcomes.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Program outcomes of 118 women with MBC visiting an urban outpatient breast cancer clinic during September 2016 to November 2016 (pre) and January 2017 to March 2017 (post) were evaluated.
MEASUREMENTS: Referral rates to social work and palliative care, symptom, anxiety, and overall well-being scores.
RESULTS: Following program implementation, referrals to palliative care and social work supportive services increased significantly including patient-reported outcomes symptom distress scores mean difference 1.4 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.4306-2.6428), P = .004; generalized anxiety scores mean difference 1.5 (95% CI: 0.5406-2.5781), P = .003; and overall well-being mean difference of -0.7 (95% CI: -1.3498 to -0.0570), P = .03.
CONCLUSIONS: Purposeful nurse-led assessment for social service and palliative care needs increases referrals with improvement in patient-reported outcomes.
While the particular health-care concerns of transgender people have been documented and transgender aging is an emerging area of scholarship, little is known about planning for later and end-of-life care among transgender older adults. As part of a larger project, focus groups and interviews were conducted with 24 transgender older adults (average age 70 years) living in five cities in Canada exploring their concerns and explicit plans for later life care. Three primary themes emerged: (a) "dealing with the day-to-day" reflecting economic precarity and transitioning in later life, (b) fractures and support within family and community, and (c) "there's a huge gap between principle and practice" reflecting mixed experiences and perceptions of health-care services. These themes suggest that effective promotion of care planning among older transgender persons requires an appreciation of the daily exigencies of their lives and the extent and nature of social support available to them.