Family Caregivers’ Challenges in Cancer Pain Management for Patients Receiving Palliative Care

Nai Ching Chi, Lynn Nakad, Soojeong Han, Karla Washington, Yuya Hagiwara, Catherine Riffin, Debra Parker Oliver, George Demiris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Context: Family caregivers (FCs) of cancer patients play a crucial role in managing their care partner’s pain, but little research has examined FCs’ specific challenges regarding the provision of pain management (PM) to cancer patients receiving palliative care. Objectives: To determine the demographic and clinical characteristics of FCs who encounter challenges in PM and to elucidate the specific challenges that FCs face when managing pain for their care partner with cancer. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of 40 interview transcripts of FCs who were caring for persons with cancer. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using deductive thematic analysis. Results: The three major identified challenges to PM for FCs of persons with cancer were: (1) communication and teamwork issues, (2) caregiver-related issues, and (3) patient-related issues. Communication and teamwork issues encompassed caregivers’ receipt of inadequate information regarding PM, and inappropriate and ineffective communication from the healthcare team. Caregiver issues pertained to caregivers’ fear and beliefs, concurrent responsibilities, and lack of pain-related knowledge and skills. Patient issues related to their own fear and beliefs, psychological and physiological well-being, adherence to medications, and reluctance to report pain. Conclusion: Findings of this study have implications for future research and practice related to cancer PM in palliative care. Results suggest the need for FC training in PM as well as clear clinical practice guidelines and resources to help providers prepare, educate, and communicate with FCs regarding PM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • barriers
  • cancer pain
  • challenges
  • concerns
  • family caregivers
  • pain management


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