The Lived Experience of Physical Separation for Hospice Patients and Families amid COVID-19

Karla T. Washington, Amy Piontek, Jo Ann Jabbari, Jacquelyn J. Benson, George Demiris, Paul E. Tatum, Debra Parker Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Context: Many hospice patients were physically separated from family members and healthcare professionals during the early COVID-19 pandemic. Objectives: Researchers sought to describe the lived experience of physical separation for hospice patients and family caregivers who adhered to public health guidelines intended to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. Methods: Researchers performed a secondary analysis of qualitative data collected during a multi-site clinical trial of an intervention that incorporated family caregivers into care plan reviews during biweekly hospice interdisciplinary team meetings. Twenty-eight adult family caregivers of hospice patients with cancer participated in at least one care plan review between March 7, 2020 and June 10, 2020. The final analytic dataset included the transcribed content of 60 care plan reviews, which were analyzed via reflexive thematic analysis. Results: Hospice patients and their family caregivers experienced physical separation as interrupted care that resulted in the potential for unmet informational, functional, and social and emotional needs. Connection strategies employed to adapt to care interruptions and address patient and caregiver needs were not consistently effective. Conclusion: Inclusive, innovative connection strategies are needed to ensure that high-quality end-of-life care is provided to hospice patients and their family caregivers when physical presence must be limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-979
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Caregivers
  • family
  • hospices
  • patients
  • social isolation


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