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2015 Abstracts

Communication Reflections: Desired and Actual Talk in Home Hospice Care

Sarah Nagel and Allyson Brome, University of Utah

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Communication between family caregivers and hospice nurses is important in caring for cancer patients at end-of-life. However, little systematic research has been done to determine what topics are discussed, how much communication occurs in different topics, and helpfulness for caregivers. This study aims to assess caregivers’ perception of these variables. As part of a larger study of nurse-family caregiver communication in home hospice cancer care, caregivers completed a survey assessing how much caregivers wanted to talk about 6 different topics, how much they actually talked about each topic, and perceived discussion helpfulness. Descriptive statistics were calculated and paired-samples t-tests were conducted to determine differences in the actual versus desired amount of topics’ communication. 209 family caregivers of home hospice cancer patients completed the survey. 95% of caregivers were white, 124 were spouses, 66 were children, 61 were men. Average caregiver age was 58.71 (SD=13.91). Average length of hospice enrollment was 25.5 days (Median= 12.00; SD=30.07). The most common topic for both actual and desired communication was symptom discussions, followed by coping with care; death/dying; coping with stress; memories/reminiscing; religion/spirituality (Mean Range Actual=4.53-1.89; Desired=4.58-1.89). Communication was seen as helpful regardless how much they wanted to talk about specific variables (Mean Range=3.00-4.62). Paired samples t-tests revealed no significant differences between actual and desired variables for any topic except for coping with stress, which was discussed less than the caregiver would have liked (t=2.38, df=207, p=.018). This study found that caregivers desired more or less communication about varying topics, and for the most part, this was reflected in actual conversation. All conversations between nurses and caregivers were considered helpful by caregivers. Though based on retrospective self-report data, study findings support current hospice nurse communication with family caregivers. However, nurses could improve on addressing caregivers’ coping with stress, which has implications for nursing education.