Communicating Caregivers' Challenges With Cancer Pain Management: An Analysis of Home Hospice Visits

Claire J. Han, Nai Ching Chi, Soojeong Han, George Demiris, Debra Parker-Oliver, Karla Washington, Margaret F. Clayton, Maija Reblin, Lee Ellington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Context: Family caregivers (FCGs) of hospice cancer patients face significant challenges related to pain management. Addressing many of these challenges requires effective communication between FCGs and hospice nurses, yet little empirical evidence exists on the nature of communication about pain management between hospice nurses and FCGs. Objectives: We identified ways in which FCGs of hospice cancer patients communicated their pain management challenges to nurses during home visits and explored nurses' responses when pain management concerns were raised. Methods: Using secondary data from audio recordings of hospice nurses' home visits, a deductive content analysis was conducted. We coded caregivers' pain management challenges and immediate nurses' responses to these challenges. Results: From 63 hospice nurse visits, 101 statements describing caregivers' pain management challenges were identified. Thirty percent of these statements pertained to communication and teamwork issues. Twenty-seven percent concerned caregivers' medication skills and knowledge. In 52% of the cases, nurses responded to caregivers' pain management challenges with a validating statement. They provided information in 42% of the cases. Nurses did not address 14% of the statements made by caregivers reflecting pain management challenges. Conclusion: To optimize hospice patients' comfort and reduce caregivers' anxiety and burden related to pain management, hospice nurses need to assess and address caregivers' pain management challenges during home visits. Communication and educational tools designed to reduce caregivers' barriers to pain management would likely improve clinical practice and both patient- and caregiver-related outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1296-1303
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Caregivers
  • cancer
  • health communication
  • hospice
  • pain management


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