Pain Management Education for Rural Hospice Family Caregivers: A Pilot Study With Embedded Implementation Evaluation

Lauren T. Starr, Karla T. Washington, Jo Ann Jabbari, Jacquelyn J. Benson, Debra Parker Oliver, George Demiris, John G. Cagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Assessing and managing hospice patients’ pain is a common source of anxiety among hospice family caregivers (HFCGs), especially caregivers in rural communities who face special challenges including distance, limited access, and concerns about opioid misuse. Objective: To pilot test Ready2Care, a pain management education intervention for rural HFCGs. We sought to determine whether there was a signal of benefit for clinically-relevant outcomes and to identify contextual factors pertinent to conducting a future randomized clinical trial of Ready2Care. Methods: We conducted a multi-method, single-arm study, enabling completion of paired t-tests comparing pre- and post-intervention measures of caregiver anxiety, pain management self-efficacy, barriers to pain management, and reports of patient pain intensity and corresponding patient and caregiver distress. We concurrently conducted an embedded implementation evaluation via calculation of descriptive statistics (recruitment and retention data) and directed content analysis of brief caregiver interviews. Results: Twenty-seven (n = 27) HFCGs participated; 15 completed the study. Among completers, significant improvement was observed in patient pain intensity (average 1.4 points decrease on 0-10 scale) and in overall pain experience. No statistically significant changes were detected in caregiver anxiety, barriers to pain management, or pain management self-efficacy. Facilitators to successful conduct of a future clinical trial included high acceptability of Ready2Care, driven by its perceived clarity and relevance to caregivers’ concerns. Barriers included lower-than-anticipated accrual and an attrition rate of nearly 44%. Conclusion: A multisite clinical trial of Ready2Care is warranted; however, its success may require more effective recruitment and retention strategies for rural caregiver participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-633
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • education
  • family caregiver
  • hospice
  • implementation
  • pain
  • rural


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