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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Abstract

Background:

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.

Aim:

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

Design:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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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