Effect on Caregivers
In terms of the relationship between palliative care and caregivers, the results were mixed for a number of reasons. Several of the studies reviewed did not specifically address how caregivers benefitted from palliative care for patients. Of those that did, the reviewers found that there were different types of trials delivering varying kinds of care. And the researchers brought up another point: the changing nature of a terminal illness is reflected in the constantly evolving levels of care the patient requires as his or her condition worsens. These changing needs present a burden for the caregiver that the review did not actually address, as it was designed to assess the needs of the patient and not the caregiver.
Philosophy of Care
The researchers noted that they reviewed “palliative care as a philosophy of care” because the preexisting trials did not offer sufficient data to go into detail about specific models of palliative care.3 There were a number of other limitations, including the reviewers not being able to distinguish between palliative care interventions that were given early in the course of treatment and those that were offered at the end of life. The researchers call for further studies on the impact of palliative care, specifically addressing caregivers and patients.
1. Kaplan BW. Hospice versus palliative care: understanding the distinction. Oncol Nurse Advis. 2010;1(1):42-43. http://www.oncologynurseadvisor.com/the-total-patient/hospice-versus-palliative-care-understanding-the-distinction/article/168852/. Accessed December 12, 2016.
2. Malani PN, Widera E. The promise of palliative care translating clinical trials to clinical care. JAMA. 2016;316(20):2090-2091.
3. Kavalieratos D, Corbelli J, Zhang D, et al. Association between palliative care and patient and caregiver outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016;316(20):2104-2114.