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Aging Ment Health. 2009 Jan;13(1):54-63. doi: 10.1080/13607860802154473.

Mortality communication as a predictor of psychological distress among family caregivers of home hospice and hospital inpatients with terminal cancer.

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  • 1Ben-Gurion University, Sociology of Health, Be'er Sheva, Israel.


Terminally ill cancer patients and their caregivers experience significant difficulties discussing illness and impending death (herein defined as mortality communication). The current study compares response levels as well as patterns of association between mortality communication and psychological distress among caregivers of home hospice and hospital inpatients. For this study, 231 family caregivers were recruited within a year of bereavement from the south and central health regions of Israel. Contrary to our initial hypothesis, retrospectively reported levels of mortality communication did not differ between groups; however, lower levels of depressive symptomatology were reported by home hospice caregivers. Separate path analytic models indicate statistically significant inverse associations between mortality communication and psychological distress (i.e. depressive symptomatology, emotional exhaustion). Invariance analyses indicate that the strength of association between variables did not differ between path models. The results of this study are discussed in terms of self-selection biases and possible confounds associated with retrospective reporting among bereaved caregivers.

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