The Impact of Hospice Patient Disease Type and Length of Stay on Caregiver Utilization of Grief Counseling: A 10-Year Retrospective Study

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This investigation explored the relationship between hospice patient disease type, length of stay (LOS) in hospice, and caregiver utilization of grief counseling in bereavement. A 10-year retrospective study was conducted utilizing data from caregivers associated with hospice patients who died between 2004 and 2014. A threshold of inclusion for disease type (≥1.00% of hospice admissions) resulted in a sample size of 3704 patients, comprising 19 different disease types and 348 associated caregivers who received counseling. Replicating a previous study, brain cancer, lung cancer, and renal failure were among the top 4 disease types associated with higher-than-average utilization of bereavement services among caregivers, regardless of the patient’s LOS. This finding may be related to factors such as the duration of the disease, the deterioration of the patient, the absence of symptom control, and secondary losses. LOS as a predictor of whether counseling will be utilized by hospice caregivers was unsupported by this study, as the percentage of caregivers receiving counseling closely paralleled the patient’s LOS across 4 cohorts (1-30 days, 31-60 days, 61-90 days, and 91+ days). However, among the caregivers who utilized counseling, the LOS was a statistically significant predictor of the number of counseling sessions utilized. For caregivers who utilized only 1 counseling session, the associated patient median LOS was 21.5 days. For caregivers who utilized 5 or more counseling sessions, the associated patient median LOS dropped to 12 days, suggesting an inverted relationship between hospice patient LOS and the duration of counseling in bereavement.

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