Family carers share the illness experience of the dying patient

Jun 10, 2010

Family carers need to be supported throughout the whole illness of their loved ones as they witness and share much of the experience of the dying person, according to research published in the British Medical Journal today.

It has already been established that individuals dying from cancer experience distress particularly at four key time points - at diagnosis, at home after initial treatment, at recurrence, and during the terminal stage, says the study.

The authors, led by Professor Scott Murray from the University of Edinburgh, are now suggesting that family caregivers may also experience typical patterns of wellbeing and distress that their relatives are going through.

Professor Murray and colleagues carried out 42 interviews with patients with and 46 interviews with their . The interviews took place every three months for up to a year or until the patient died.

The results show that carers were generally in better health than the patients, but any they had could diminish their ability to care.

The authors say that carers often felt run down and that they were sharing the , especially as time went on and death approached. They write: "Carers, like patients, often felt they were on an emotional rollercoaster, experiencing peaks and troughs at key times of stress and uncertainty in the cancer trajectory."

The authors conclude that psychological and existential support should be targeted at carers at the four key stages of the terminal illness. "It may also be empowering for carers to know that it is common to feel stressed and in need of support at certain times," they add.

Explore further: Europe's police crack massive horsemeat trafficking ring

Related Stories

Young women warned of lung cancer risks

Apr 03, 2009

Seventeen people are still dying from lung cancer each week in Northern Ireland despite a small improvement in survival rates for the disease.

Recommended for you

Europe's police crack massive horsemeat trafficking ring

Apr 25, 2015

Police from seven European countries detained 26 people in a crackdown on a horsemeat trafficking ring two years after a tainted meat scandal that rocked the continent, the EU's judicial agency Eurojust said Saturday.

Text messaging useful for reaching 'at-risk' teens about sex

Apr 24, 2015

Text messaging that connects teens with sexual health educators is effective for delivering sexual health information, according to a recent study in The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.The ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.