Knowledge Gaps in End-Of-Life Family Caregiving for Persons Living With Dementia: A Study of Hospice Clinician Perspectives

Meghan McDarby, David Russell, Lori King, Elissa Kozlov, and Elizabeth A. Luth

Publication Date: 05/12/2023



More than 35% of hospice care recipients 65 and older have a dementia diagnosis. Yet family care partners of persons living with dementia report feeling unprepared to address their hospice recipient’s changing needs nearing end of life. Hospice clinicians may have unique insight into the knowledge needs of family care partners and strategies for end-of-life dementia caregiving.



Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 hospice physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and social workers. Interview transcripts were deductively analyzed using thematic analysis to examine clinicians’ perspectives on gaps and strategies related to family care partner knowledge about end-of-life dementia caregiving.



We identified 3 themes related to gaps in family care partners’ knowledge: dementia is a progressive, fatal disease; end-of-life symptoms and symptom management in persons living with advanced dementia; and understanding hospice goals and guidelines. Three themes related to clinicians’ strategies to increase knowledge included: providing education; teaching strategies to facilitate coping and preparedness for end-of-life care; and communicating with empathy.

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