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BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2015 Jun;5(2):153-9. doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000257. Epub 2013 Nov 19.

Identifying changes in the support networks of end-of-life carers using social network analysis.

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CSIRO Perth Australia and University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
School of Social Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


End-of-life caring is often associated with reduced social networks for both the dying person and for the carer. However, those adopting a community participation and development approach, see the potential for the expansion and strengthening of networks. This paper uses Knox, Savage and Harvey's definitions of three generations social network analysis to analyse the caring networks of people with a terminal illness who are being cared for at home and identifies changes in these caring networks that occurred over the period of caring. Participatory network mapping of initial and current networks was used in nine focus groups. The analysis used key concepts from social network analysis (size, density, transitivity, betweenness and local clustering) together with qualitative analyses of the group's reflections on the maps. The results showed an increase in the size of the networks and that ties between the original members of the network strengthened. The qualitative data revealed the importance between core and peripheral network members and the diverse contributions of the network members. The research supports the value of third generation social network analysis and the potential for end-of-life caring to build social capital.


Home Care; Methodological Research; Social Care; Supportive Care; Terminal Care

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