Meeting the supportive needs of family caregivers in palliative care: challenges for health professionals

J Palliat Med. 2004 Feb;7(1):19-25. doi: 10.1089/109662104322737214.


Caring for a dying relative is demanding, and family caregivers have acknowledged many unmet needs associated with their caregiver role. Consistently, caregivers of dying patients with cancer have reported that they need more support and information from health care professionals. Moreover, a number of palliative care clinicians and researchers have called for interventions to enhance the support offered to family caregivers. However, before researchers can develop and test palliative care interventions directed to families, it is important to identify barriers that may confront health care professionals with regard to the provision of supportive family care. For new interventions to be feasible they must be applicable within the constraints of current palliative care service delivery environments. This paper provides an account of issues that may impinge on optimal transference of supportive strategies from health care professionals to family caregivers of patients receiving palliative care. By acknowledging these barriers to supportive care, researchers and health care professionals can begin to design and implement interventions that are clinically relevant and more likely to be effective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers
  • Communication Barriers
  • Communication*
  • Health Planning
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Home Nursing
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Social Support*
  • Terminal Care / methods*