Family caregiver skills in medication management for hospice patients: A qualitative study to define a construct

Denys T. Lau, Judith D. Kasper, Joshua M. Hauser, Celia Berdes, Chih Hung Chang, Rebecca L. Berman, Jonathan Masin-Peters, Judith Paice, Linda Emanuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Objectives.To propose a theoretical construct of family caregiver skills in effective medication management for home hospice patients.Methods. Semistructured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 22 hospice providers (14 nurses, 4 physicians, and 4 social workers) and 23 family caregivers (10 daughters, 4 wives, 2 husbands, and 7 others) of elderly patients (≥60 years old) who were receiving home services from four hospice care programs in the Chicago metropolitan area.Results.Although both groups identified similar skill sets, hospice providers emphasized technical skills such as administering medications, and family caregivers valued management skills such as organizing medications, coordinating with hired caregivers, and providing care to patients who resisted treatment. We defined effective medication management in hospice as caregivers' ability to effectively relieve symptoms with pharmacological interventions by successfully utilizing skills related to teamwork (coordinate with hospice providers and with other family or hired caregivers), organization (acquire, store, track, and discard medications), symptom knowledge (recognize and interpret common symptoms), medication knowledge (understand the basics of pharmacology and medication administration), and personhood (understand and respond to the patient's needs).Discussion.The proposed construct of medication management skills in hospice will help guide future development of training interventions and clinical assessment tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-807
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009


  • Caregiver competence
  • Caregiving
  • Pain management
  • Palliative care
  • Symptom control


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