Evaluation of a psycho-educational group programme for family caregivers in home-based palliative care
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BACKGROUND: Family caregivers are often responsible for providing significant support to relatives who require palliative care at home. However, evidence suggests that family caregivers have limited information, resources or support to prepare them for such a role. Furthermore, family caregiving can be associated with negative physical, financial and psychosocial outcomes. PURPOSE: This project sought to examine the utility of a group family caregiver psycho-educational programme focused on preparing primary family caregivers for the role of supporting a relative with advanced cancer at home. METHOD: The education programme consisted of three consecutive weekly sessions presented in a group format, conducted at six home-based palliative care services across metropolitan and regional Victoria (Australia). Participating caregivers were required to complete a set of self-report questionnaires measuring caregiver competence, preparedness, optimism, rewards, social support, burden and information needs, at three time points: commencement of the programme (T1), upon completion (T2) and 2 weeks later (T3). Caregivers were also asked to report on the relevance, acceptability and content of the programme, as well as any barriers to access. RESULTS: Sixteen education programmes were conducted, with 74 caregivers attending the first session. Forty-four caregivers completed all three data collection sets. Following the intervention, a significant positive effect was found for the following outcomes: preparedness for the caring role, caregiving competence, caregiving rewards and having information needs met from T1 to T2. These improvements were maintained at follow-up (T3). Feedback on the individual sessions and entire programme was favourable and the overwhelming majority of participants reported that the programme had a positive impact on their lives. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that a group education programme to prepare family caregivers for the role of supporting a dying relative at home was accessible, applicable and effective.
The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Palliative Medicine, Vol. 22, No. 3, April 2008 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. Copyright © 2008 by SAGE Publications.
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