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Teenagers are living through a turbulent period in their development, when they are breaking away from the family to form their own identities, and so they are particularly vulnerable to the stressful situation of having a parent affected by a progessive and incurable illness. The current study sought to gain more knowledge about the ways that teenagers themselves describe living in a family with a seriously ill and dying parent. More specifically, the aims were to describe how teenagers are emotionally affected by everyday life in a family with a dying parent and to determine how they attempt to adapt to this situation.
The study employed a descriptive and interpretive design using qualitative content analysis. A total of 10 teenagers (aged 14–19 years, 7 boys and 3 girls) participated through repeated, individual, informal interviews that were carried out as free-ranging conversations.
While contending with their own vulnerable developmental period of life, the teenagers were greatly affected by their parent's illness and took on great responsibility for supporting their parents and siblings, and for maintaining family life. Lacking sufficient information and support left them rather unprepared, having to guess and to interpret the vague signs of failing health on their own, with feelings of uncertainty and loneliness as a consequence.
Significance of Results:
Support from healthcare professionals should be designed to help and encourage parents to have open communications about their illness with their teenaged children. Our results add further support to the literature, reinforcing the need for an approach that uses a systemic perspective and considers the family to be the appropriate unit of care and offers a suitable support system.
Family caregivers have been given increasing importance in palliative home care and face a great responsibility as caregivers for patients suffering from incurable illness. Preparedness for caregiving has been found to moderate negative effects and promote well-being in family caregivers. The aim of our study was to explore family caregivers' own experiences of preparing for caregiving in specialized palliative home care.
An interpretive descriptive design was chosen. A strategic sampling method was applied with a focus on participants who rated their preparedness as high and low using a structured instrument. Qualitative interviews were completed with 12 family caregivers. They were analyzed using a constant-comparative technique.
Family caregivers described their experience of preparing for caregiving as an ongoing process, rather than something done in advance. The process was illustrated through three subprocesses: “awaring” (realizing the seriousness of the situation), “adjusting” (managing a challenging situation), and “anticipating” (planning for the inevitable loss).
Significance of results:
Knowledge about the process of preparedness for caregiving and its subprocesses could be valuable to healthcare professionals, given the positive effects shown by preparedness in this context. Being able to recognize the different subprocesses of preparedness for caregiving could provide healthcare professionals with opportunities to support family caregivers in managing them. Preparedness for caregiving should be seen as a process to be supported and promoted continuously in palliative home care, not just at enrollment.
Of the few studies that have paid attention to feelings of reward in family palliative caregiving, most are retrospective and examine the experiences of bereaved family caregivers. Although feeling rewarded has been described as an influence that may facilitate the way family caregivers handle the caregiving situation, no study has sought to identify the factors associated with feelings of reward while providing ongoing family palliative care. The aim of this study, therefore, was to identify influential factors in feelings of reward experienced by family palliative caregivers.
Our study had a correlational cross-sectional design. Family caregivers (n = 125) of patients receiving specialized palliative care were consecutively recruited from four settings. These caregivers answered a questionnaire that included the Rewards of Caregiving Scale (RCS). This questionnaire included questions about demographic background and scales to measure preparedness for caregiving, feelings of hope, perceived health, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Correlation and regression analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with rewards.
The results demonstrated that the more prepared caregivers with higher levels of hope felt more rewarded, while caregivers with higher levels of anxiety and those in a spousal relationship with the patient felt less rewarded by caregiving.
Significance of results:
It seems reasonable that feeling rewarded can be a significant contributor to the overall experience of providing ongoing palliative care. The situation of family caregivers has been shown to be multifaceted and complex, and such covariant factors as preparedness, anxiety, hope, and being in a spousal relationship with the patient to influence this experience.
Palliative family caregivers appear to experience the rewards of caregiving concurrent with burdens and negative feelings. Relatively few studies have attended to the positive and rewarding aspects in palliative family caregiving. In addition, most studies on rewards are retrospective and examine the experiences of bereaved family caregivers. The present study aimed at describing feelings of reward among family caregivers during ongoing palliative care. A further aim was to compare the experience of rewards in relation to sex and age.
The sample consisted of 125 family caregivers and took place in three specialist palliative care units and one hematology unit. Participants answered a questionnaire including demographic background questions and the Rewards of Caregiving Scale (RCS). Descriptive statistics were employed to describe characteristics of the participants and the level of rewards. A Mann–Whitney U test was used to compare differences between groups of different sex and age.
Palliative family caregivers reported general high levels of reward. The greatest source of rewards involved feelings of being helpful to patients. This was closely followed by giving something to patients that brought them happiness and being there for them. The smallest sources of rewards were related to personal growth, self-satisfaction, and personal meaning. There was also an association between rewards and age but not between men and women.
Significance of results:
Family caregivers experienced the rewards of caregiving during ongoing palliative care despite their unique and stressful situation. Feelings of reward seem to be about handling a situation in a satisfying way, feeling competent and confident to take care of the patient and thereby feeling proud. Support could preferably be designed to improve a family caregiver's ability to care and to facilitate the positive aspects and rewards of caregiving and focus on strengths and resources.
The aim of the study was to describe family members' experiences of content, structure, and approach of a potential intervention including a support group program for family members of persons with life-threatening illness.
The study was a pilot project in a developmental phase in which a potential intervention, a support group program, was investigated. The design of the study was qualitative descriptive. Twenty-nine family members were interviewed by telephone after taking part in the program. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
The results indicate that the support group program could work as an acceptable and useful intervention for family members. The program was experienced to cover topics of immediate interest reflecting life close to severely ill persons. The structure of the program was found to be inviting, offering an opportunity to establish relationships with other participants and the caring team in a warm atmosphere.
Significance of results:
The study indicates the importance of health professionals inviting and interacting with family members during ongoing palliative care. The results could inspire nursing staff to initiate, develop, and deliver similar interventions.
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