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Papers of the Week

2023 Jan 22

Health Commun

Close but Not Close Enough: How Distance Caregiving is Associated with Hospice Family Caregiver Hospice Communication Experiences.


Starr LT, Washington K, Pitzer K, Oliver D P, Demiris G
Health Commun. 2023 Jan 22:1-11.
PMID: 36683376.


Half of hospice family caregivers report having unmet information needs, which can contribute to poor pain and symptom management, emergency department use, and hospice disenrollment for care-recipients and to caregiver strain and stress. Effective communication between hospice teams and family caregivers is critical yet communication inadequacies persist. Despite the growing prevalence of distance caregiving, including in hospice care, and the relationship between caregiver proximity and communication effectiveness, little is known about how caregiver proximity is associated with caregiver perceptions of hospice communication. In this secondary analysis of quantitative data from two multisite randomized clinical trials (NCT03712410 and NCT02929108) for hospice family caregivers ( = 525), multivariate linear models with demographic and contextual controls were used to analyze caregivers' perceptions of caregiver-centered communication with hospice providers based on caregiver proximity to the hospice care-recipient. In multivariate models, "local" hospice family caregivers who lived within 1 hour of the hospice care-recipient reported less effective communication with the hospice team than co-residing caregivers; and older caregivers rated communication more favorably than younger caregivers. To improve communication and collaboration between hospice teams and caregivers, regardless of proximity, distance communication training for hospice teams and interventions such as telehealth communication and virtual tools that enable triadic collaboration are recommended. Research is needed to understand why local caregivers, specifically, perceive communication quality less favorably and how hospice teams can better meet local and distance caregiver communication needs.