Teaching Family Carers About Home-Based Palliative Care: Final Results From a Group Education Program

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009 Aug;38(2):299-308. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2008.08.010. Epub 2009 Apr 5.


Without the considerable support provided by family carers, many patients receiving palliative care would be unable to remain at home. However, family carers typically lack the required information and skills to prepare them for such a role. Pilot work has demonstrated that group education programs for family carers can be readily developed; they are feasible, accessible, and useful. This project sought to build on our pilot research to further examine the effectiveness of a group education program by evaluating the outcomes with a larger number of participants. The program aimed to prepare primary family carers for the role of supporting a relative with advanced, noncurative cancer at home. The psycho-educational program 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. The following dependent variables were measured at three time points: carer competence, preparedness, rewards, and information needs. The three time points were: commencement of the program (Time 1), upon completion (Time 2), and two weeks later (Time 3). A total of 156 participants (including the pilot phase) completed Time 1 questionnaires and 96 completed all three time periods (62%). Between Time 1 and Time 2, the intervention had a statistically significant positive effect on preparedness, competence, rewards, and having informational needs met. Outcomes were maintained at Time 3. There was no difference in the effectiveness of the intervention for participants in regional areas compared to participants in metropolitan areas. This study demonstrated that a group education program to prepare family carers for the role of supporting a dying relative at home was effective. Implications for further research and practice are outlined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Socioeconomic Factors