The Melbourne Family Support Program: evidence-based strategies that prepare family caregivers for supporting palliative care patients

Peter Hudson, Sanchia Aranda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background

A key component of palliative care is support for family caregivers. Although some family caregivers identify positive aspects, the impact is typically burdensome; they are prone to physical and psychological morbidity, financial disadvantage and social isolation. Outcomes of systematic reviews have highlighted the importance of investment in family caregiver intervention research.

Purpose

To provide an overview of the development, evaluation and outcomes arising from of a programme of research (The Melbourne Family Support Program (FSP)), which focused on reducing the psychosocial burden of family caregivers.

Methods

Developmental work involved a systematic literature review; focus groups with family caregivers and health professionals; and identification of a conceptual framework. Following a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT), a programme of psychoeducational intervention studies was developed and tested; one via RCT, the others via prepost test.
Results
Four psychoeducational interventions, incorporating one-to-one and group format delivery, conducted in both the home and inpatient hospital/hospice were evaluated. Statistically significant outcomes included improvements in family caregivers’ preparedness, competence, positive emotions, more favourable levels of psychological wellbeing and a reduction in unmet needs. Internationally endorsed guidelines for the psychosocial support of family caregivers were produced and several resources were constructed. Fifteen publications in international peer-reviewed journals have arisen from this programme.

Conclusions

The interventions and resources from the Melbourne FSP provide several evidenced-based and clinically relevant approaches that focus on reducing the psychosocial burden of the caregiving role. In several instances, however, more rigorous methodological testing is advocated
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-237
JournalBMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Volume4
Issue number3
Early online date04 Jun 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2014

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