Family caregiver learning—how family caregivers learn to provide care at the end of life: A qualitative secondary analysis of four datasets

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Family caregivers are assuming growing responsibilities in providing care to dying family members. Supporting them is fundamental to ensure quality end-of-life care and to buffer potentially negative outcomes, although family caregivers frequently acknowledge a deficiency of information, knowledge, and skills necessary to assume the tasks involved in this care.


The aim of this inquiry was to explore how family caregivers describe learning to provide care to palliative patients.


Secondary analysis of data from four qualitative studies (n = 156) with family caregivers of dying people.

Data sources:

Data included qualitative interviews with 156 family caregivers of dying people.


Family caregivers learn through the following processes: trial and error, actively seeking needed information and guidance, applying knowledge and skills from previous experience, and reflecting on their current experiences. Caregivers generally preferred and appreciated a supported or guided learning process that involved being shown or told by others, usually learning reactively after a crisis.


Findings inform areas for future research to identify effective, individualized programs and interventions to support positive learning experiences for family caregivers of dying people.

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