263026 Pre and post-loss needs of people with terminally ill spouses: Recommendations from a qualitative study

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Laurel Hilliker, PhD , Dept of Psychology and Sociology, Park University, Parkville, MO
Harry Perlstadt, PhD, MPH , Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
A qualitative study examined the unmet needs surrounding both pre-loss and post-loss concerns of 38 people age 46-64 who were involved in sole or joint caregiving for terminal illnesses of their spouses and subsequently witnessed their eventual death. The revealed pre-loss needs focused on the often insensitive way in which the terminal diagnosis was delivered as well as coordination of care with hospice or other providers. Immediate post lost needs included funeral and related arrangements and the speeding up of the grieving process. These findings led to an examination of theories and language used with survivors (e.g., phases, stages, tasks, grief process, etc) to improve care and support for end of life experiences. This study offers insight into vital areas in need of attention by practitioners, the medical community, and the death and grief care industry. Recommendations are given for a more sensitive delivery of bad news, better coordination of care for the dying spouse, and suggestions for moving away from an emphasis on a ‘grief process' in the professional death and grief industry.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Explore both sole and joint caregiving experiences for people whose spouse is dying 2. Examine theories and language used with survivors of loss 3. Discuss temporal aspects of a disrupted life narrative related to spousal loss 4. Investigate recommendations for better coordination of care along with language used in formal support

Keywords: Aging, Death

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted evaluation studies and teach medical sociology that includes aspects of death and dying. I was on Dr. Hilliker's dissertation committee.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.