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Comparison of the experience of caregiving at end of life or in hastened death: A narrative synthesis review

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
Article number154
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/10/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>BMC Palliative Care
Volume19
Number of pages16
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Background: End-of-life caregiving frequently is managed by friends and family. Studies on hastened death, including aid in dying or assisted suicide, indicate friends and family also play essential roles before, during, and after death. No studies have compared the experiences of caregivers in hastened and non-hastened death. The study aim is to compare end-of-life and hastened death caregiving experience using Hudson’s modified stress-coping model for palliative caregiving.

Method: Narrative synthesis of qualitative studies for caregivers at end of life and in hastened death, with 9946 end-of life and 1414 hastened death qualitative, peer-reviewed research articles extracted from MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, and PsycINFO, published between January 1998 and April 2020.

Results: 42 end-of-life caregiving and 12 hastened death caregiving articles met inclusion criteria. In both end-of-life and hastened death contexts, caregivers are motivated to ease patient suffering and may put their own needs or feelings aside to focus on that priority. Hastened death caregivers’ expectation of impending death and the short duration of caregiving may result in less caregiver burden and less difficult grief. Acceptance of the patient’s condition, social support, and support from healthcare professionals all appear to improve caregiver experience. However, data on hastened death are limited.

Conclusion: Caregivers in both groups sought closeness with the patient and reported satisfaction at having done their best to care for the patient in a critical time. Awareness of anticipated death and support from healthcare professionals appear to reduce caregiver stress. The modified stress-coping framework is an effective lens for interpreting caregivers’ experiences at end of life and in the context of hastened death.