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Adult Child-Parent Dyadic Interactions at the End of Life: A Scoping Review
  1. Franziska A Herbst,
  2. Laura Gawinski,
  3. Nils Schneider and
  4. Stephanie Stiel
  1. Institute for General Practice, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Franziska A Herbst, Institute for General Practice, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, 30635 Hannover, Germany; herbst.franziska{at}


Background Being terminally ill affects not only the life of patients but also that of their loved ones. Dyads of adult children and their parents at the end of life may face specific challenges with regard to their relationship and interactions that need to be further examined.

Aim The aim was to identify, describe and summarise available evidence on adult child–parent interaction and psychosocial support needs at the end of life. Research gaps in the existing literature are disclosed and recommendations for future research are presented.

Design A type 4 scoping review according to Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) methodological framework was conducted. The review includes studies regardless of study design and provides a descriptive account of foci of available research.

Data sources The PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Google Scholar and Web of Science databases were searched from inception to 16 August 2018. An additional hand search was conducted. A highly sensitive search strategy was employed to cover all potentially relevant results.

Results The authors screened 1832 records by title and abstract, retrieved 216 full-text articles and included 15 studies from the database search. One study was identified by way of hand search. The review identified six major themes: (1) adult child–parent relationship, (2) adult child–parent communication, (3) involvement in caregiving, (4) benefit and burden of caregiving, (5) coping strategies and (6) support and information for caregivers.

Conclusions The scoping review accentuates the paucity of studies that address both patients’ and their parent/adult child caregivers’ relationship, interaction and psychosocial support needs.

  • communication
  • hospice care
  • terminal care
  • adult children
  • parents
  • palliative care

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  • FAH and LG are joint first authors.

  • Contributors FAH had the idea for the scoping review. FAH and LG were responsible for the design and coordination of the review study, conducted the database search, screened the search results, extracted the data and wrote the manuscript. SS and NS contributed to the final draft and supported the quality of the manuscript by revising it critically based on their longstanding expertise in the end-of-life research. All the authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The present scoping review is part of the study ‘Dy@EoL—Interaction at the end of life in dyads of parents and adult children’. The study is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (Grant No. 01GY1711).

  • Disclaimer The funder did not play any role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, or in the drafting of this paper.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was not required because of the type of review (narrative review of the literature).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement The set of studies analysed within the scoping review process is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.