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Hospice nurses frequently encounter patients and families under tremendous emotional distress, yet the communication techniques they use in emotionally charged situations have rarely been investigated. In this study, researchers sought to examine hospice nurses’ use of validation communication techniques, which have been shown in prior research to be effective in supporting individuals experiencing emotional distress.
Researchers performed a directed content analysis of audiorecordings of 65 hospice nurses’ home visits by identifying instances when nurses used validation communication techniques and rating the level of complexity of those techniques.
All nurses used validation communication techniques at least once during their home visits. Use of lower level (i.e., more basic) techniques was more common than use of higher level (i.e., more complex) techniques.
Significance of Results
Although hospice nurses appear to use basic validation techniques naturally, benefit may be found in the use of higher level techniques, which have been shown to result in improved clinical outcomes in other settings.
Researchers sought to determine the extent to which burden related to patients' symptom subtypes could predict informal hospice caregiver depression, and to illustrate the differences between caregivers who experience suicidal ideation and those who do not.
Informal caregivers recruited from a not-for-profit community-based hospice agency participated in a cross-sectional survey. Self-report questionnaires assessed caregiver burden associated with patient symptomatology (via a modified version of the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale–Short Form) and caregiver depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation (measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire–9). Multiple regressions evaluated the unique predictability of patients' symptom subtypes on caregiver depression. Exploratory analyses examined mean differences of study variables between participants who did and did not endorse suicidal ideation.
Caregiver burden related to patients' psychological symptoms accounted for significant variance in caregiver depression scores when controlling for burden related to physical symptoms. Among 229 caregivers (M age = 61.4 years), 12 reported suicidal ideation, where 6 of the 12 were male, despite male caregivers comprising less than 20% of the total sample.
Significance of results:
Burden associated with patients' psychological symptoms uniquely contributed to caregiver depression, further highlighting the clinical utility and necessity for hospice providers to address the emotional needs of patients and their caregivers alike. Developing clinical procedures to identify and respond to such needs would not only behoove hospice agencies, but it would likely enhance the caregiving experience holistically, which might be particularly imperative for male caregivers.
We sought to determine the frequency with which hospice and palliative social workers encounter patients, family caregivers, and other clients at risk of suicide, and to discover the extent to which hospice and palliative social workers feel prepared to address issues related to suicide in their professional practice.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of hospice and palliative social workers, recruiting a convenience sample of volunteer respondents through advertisements at professional conferences and listservs, and via social media accounts associated with national organizations, state hospice and palliative care associations, and individual healthcare professionals.
Most respondents reported having worked with patients, family caregivers, or other clients who had exhibited warning signs of suicide during the previous year. Fewer respondents indicated that they had worked with patients and family members who had attempted or died by suicide. While the majority of respondents believed they possessed sufficient knowledge and skills to intervene effectively with individuals at risk of suicide, they indicated that additional education on this topic would be valuable for their professional practice.
Significance of results:
These study results suggest that suicide-related competencies are important in the practice of hospice and palliative social work. Future education and training efforts should include skill development in addition to knowledge building.
Although hospice agencies are required to provide informal caregivers (family or friends of the patient) with formal bereavement support when their loved one passes, most bereavement interventions lack standardization and remain untested. We employed the Dual Processing Model of Bereavement as a theoretical framework for assessing the potential of a secret Facebook group for bereaved hospice caregivers.
A mixed-methods approach was utilized to analyze online communication (posts and comments) in the secret Facebook group, and self-reported outcome measures on depression and anxiety were compared pre- and post-intervention.
Sixteen caregivers participated in the secret Facebook group over a period of nine months. The majority of online talk was oriented to restoration, revealing abrupt and anticipated triggers that evoked feelings of loss. Caregivers also shared loss orientation through storytelling, sharing and giving advice, and encouraging others to manage the challenges of coping. Caregiver anxiety and depression were lower after the intervention.
Significance of Results:
This pilot study provides insight into the use of a secret Facebook group to facilitate bereavement support to caregivers. Findings highlight the promise of Facebook for hospice bereavement support. Providers and researchers are encouraged to explore the positive outcomes associated with bereavement support.
This study examined the prevalence of clinically significant anxiety among informal hospice caregivers and identified the characteristics of caregivers who experienced anxiety of this severity.
An exploratory secondary data analysis pooled from three separate studies of informal hospice caregivers (N = 433) was conducted. Researchers employed descriptive statistics to calculate anxiety prevalence and utilized logistic regression to model the associations between the covariates (i.e., caregiver characteristics) and anxiety.
Overall, 31% of informal hospice caregivers reported moderate or higher levels of anxiety. Caregivers associated with the research site in the Northwest were less likely to be anxious than those in the Southeast [χ2(3, N = 433) = 7.07, p = 0.029], and employed caregivers were less likely to be anxious than unemployed caregivers (OR = 0.56, 95% CI = 0.33, 0.96). The likelihood of being anxious decreased with increasing physical quality of life (OR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.69, 0.85), and younger female caregivers were more likely to be anxious than male caregivers and older females (OR = 0.95, CI = 0.91, 0.99).
Significance of Results:
A noteworthy number of informal hospice caregivers experience clinically significant levels of anxiety. Increased efforts to screen and address anxiety in this population are recommended.
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