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A separate structured conversation with relatives of patients enrolled for advanced palliative home care: A care development project

  • Maria E. Carlsson (a1)



One prerequisite for palliative home care is the relatives' participation in the care. The relatives' situation in palliative home care is unique, as they support the sick person and also have a great need for support themselves. The aim of this care development project was to develop and implement separate structured conversations (SSC) with relatives of patients of an advanced palliative home care team (APHCT).


During the project, 61 conversations were held and 55 relatives answered a questionnaire. The questionnaire, eight semistructured interviews with relatives, and three focus-group discussions with nurses constitute the material for the evaluation.


Relatives have difficulties separating the SSC from the APHCT's care as a whole. They underline that the SSC was a part of an ongoing process. They also emphasize the value of having a conversation of their own in which the patient was absent, and in which the focus was on the relative's situation. For some, the conversation took place at the APHCT premises. The advantages of that were more privacy and the opportunity to walk around the inpatient palliative care units. The main problem during the project was conducting the SSC soon after the patient was enrolled with the APHCT.

Significance of results:

Routinely offering one separate structured conversation with relatives with the intention of answering questions, talking about their willingness to provide care in the home, and mapping out their situation and social network, is a way to support both the relatives and the patients. The common structure of the conversations facilitated the assessment of the relatives' situation but did not hinder individualization according to the relatives' needs. The assumption is that all relatives should be offered a conversation.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Maria E. Carlsson, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, P.O. Box 564, SE-751 22 Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail:


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A separate structured conversation with relatives of patients enrolled for advanced palliative home care: A care development project

  • Maria E. Carlsson (a1)


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