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Caring for the caregiver: factors associated with the quality of life of family caregivers to palliative care patients

Macarena Quesada, Manuel Madrigal, Aurelio Luna, Maria D Perez-Carceles


Purpose: The aim was to investigate the factors associated with the quality of life (QoL) of family caregivers to palliative care patients.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted of 125 family caregivers of patients in the terminal phase of their illness and included in palliative care programs. Data were collected using WHOQOL-BREF, the socio-demographic characteristics of both caregiver and patient, clinical questions and information about caregiving.

Results: The QoL of caregivers was lower than that of the national average for healthy people. Significantly lower QoL scores were obtained in the case of caregivers if they were women, over 55 years, uneducated, unemployed or the patient’s spouse. Cancer diagnosis and patients who were dependent for their Activities of Daily Living also lower caregiver QoL. The factors associated with higher caregiver QoL in each domain differed: being employed in the physical domain (OR:3.3; 95% CI:1.47-7.4), the patient receiving palliative care in hospital in the psychological domain (OR:3.05; 95% CI:1.19-7.7), a higher level of caregiver´s education in the social domain (OR:3.3; 95% CI:1.4-9.8) and caregivers between 45-55 years in the environmental domain (OR:5.4; 95% CI:1.6-9.2).

Conclusion: Family caregivers of palliative care patients are highly burdened during caregiving. Characteristics of the patient and caregiver and the conditions under which care is performed, significantly affect QoL. We consider it essential to increase health professionals’ awareness of the importance of the role of the caregiver in providing services to the terminally ill, given the impact of the caregiver’s QoL on the QoL of the palliative care patient and its importance for the delivery of person-centered care at the end of life.






Activities of Daily Living (ADL), associated factors, family caregivers, measurement tools, palliative care, person-centered healthcare, psychosocial wellbeing, quality of life, Spain

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