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Supporting family caregivers of hospitalised palliative care patients: a psychoeducational group intervention
  1. Peter L Hudson1,2,
  2. Thomas Trauer3,
  3. Elizabeth Lobb4,
  4. Rachel Zordan1,
  5. Anne Williams5,
  6. Karen Quinn6,
  7. Michael Summers6 and
  8. Kristina Thomas7
  1. 1Centre for Palliative Care, The University of Melbourne and St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Queen's University, Belfast, UK
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  4. 4Department of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Melbourne, Australia
  5. 5Clinical Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, Jundalup, Australia
  6. 6Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia, Melbourne, Australia
  7. 7Centre for Palliative Care, St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Peter Hudson, Centre for Palliative Care, The University of Melbourne and St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne 3065, Australia


Background Many family caregivers of palliative care patients experience poor health and have other unmet needs, requiring health professionals' support. However, there are few evidence-based supportive interventions to address these issues.

Purpose The purpose of this project was to undertake preliminary testing of a psychoeducational group education programme, delivered in an in-patient setting, designed to prepare family caregivers for the role of supporting a relative currently receiving hospital-based palliative care.

Methods A pilot phase was conducted to develop the intervention and explore its utility. Thereafter the single session intervention was delivered in five palliative care units in three states of Australia and its effectiveness was examined using a pre–post design. Outcome variables included caregiver preparedness, competence and unmet needs. Psychological wellbeing was measured in order to determine if there were any deleterious psychological outcomes.

Results One hundred and twenty-six participants completed Time 1 data and 107 (84.9%) completed Time 2 data (post-intervention). There were statistically significant improvements in caregivers' sense of preparedness (p=<.001; effect size (ES) 0.43) and a significant reduction in unmet caregiver needs (p=014; ES 0.22). There was no significant effect on psychological wellbeing and the improvement on competence fell short of statistical significance.

Conclusions This study reinforces the notion that psychoeducational interventions for this population can potentially be applicable, acceptable and effective. However, the number of participants who were recruited and attended each session was fewer than anticipated, resulting in methodological implications. It is recommended that the intervention undergo further empirical inquiry, such as via a controlled trial.

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  • Funding This study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

  • Competing interests None.

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