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Int J Psychiatry Med. 1983-1984;13(2):153-65.

The impact of hospice care on families.


The impact of a hospital-based Hospice service for late-stage cancer patients, on the families of fifty-eight bereaved spouses was studied, retrospectively. Hospice care in general was rated significantly higher when compared to the prior care (p less than .001) received by patients and families. Hospice care contributed to improved family functioning and well-being, with the vast majority of spouses reporting feelings of increased support, improved coping by all family members and increased closeness, when compared to prior care. Consequently, over three-quarters of the families reported being emotionally prepared, and prepared in a practical sense, for the death of their loved one. Families appear to be coping reasonably well during bereavement especially those who reported feeling emotionally prepared for the death. Health problems were reported as a large problem in 15 percent of the respondents, which compares favorably to previously documented research on bereavement and illness. These findings indicate that a Hospice mode of care, with its support of families during terminal and bereavement stages, impacts significantly on families' abilities to cope with the terminal phase and adapt afterwards.

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