Family caregivers' views on coordination of care in Huntington's disease: a qualitative study

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Abstract

Background:

Collaboration between family caregivers and health professionals in specialised hospitals or community-based primary healthcare systems can be challenging. During the course of severe chronic disease, several health professionals might be involved at a given time, and the patient's illness may be unpredictable or not well understood by some of those involved in the treatment and care.

Aim:

The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and expectations of family caregivers for persons with Huntington's disease concerning collaboration with healthcare professionals.

Methods:

To shed light on collaboration from the perspectives of family caregivers, we conducted an explorative, qualitative interview study with 15 adult participants experienced from caring for family members in all stages of Huntington's disease. Data were analysed with systematic text condensation, a cross-case method for thematic analysis of qualitative data.

Results:

We found that family caregivers approached health services hoping to understand the illness course and to share their concerns and stories with skilled and trustworthy professionals. Family caregivers felt their involvement in consultations and access to ongoing exchanges of knowledge were important factors in improved health services. They also felt that the clarity of roles and responsibilities was crucial to collaboration.

Conclusions:

Family caregivers should be acknowledged for their competences and should be involved as contributors in partnerships with healthcare professionals. Our study suggests that building respectful partnerships with family caregivers and facilitating the mutual sharing of knowledge may improve the coordination of care. It is important to establish clarity of roles adjusted to caregivers' individual resources for managing responsibilities in the care process.

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