Family carers' experiences of coping with the deaths of adults in home settings: A narrative analysis of carers' relevant background worries

Carol Thomas, Mary Turner, Sheila Payne, Christine Milligan, Sarah Brearley, David Seamark, Xu Wang, Susan Blake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Internationally, evidence on the support needs of family carers who look after a terminally ill adult in home settings is
Aim: To illustrate the relevance of ‘relevant background worries’ in family carers’ accounts of caring at home for a dying adult.
Design: A qualitative cross-sectional observational study was conducted in England, United Kingdom, in 2011–2013 on the
experiences of adult family carers (n=59) of older dying adults (aged 50+years) with malignant and/or non-malignant conditions.
Interviews occurred post-bereavement. This article reports on a subset of participants’ interview transcripts (n=30) where narrative
analysis was undertaken.
Setting/participants: Carers were interviewed in their home setting, having been purposively recruited via general practitioner
practices in two study sites in England. The subset of participants (n=30) was purposively selected from the parent sample with
reference to carers’ age, relationship to the patient, family circumstances and study sites.
Results: Evidence is provided on the importance of what we conceptualise as carers’ ‘relevant background worries’; these varied in
nature, significance and impact. Four case studies are presented where these worries constituted psychosocial factors that impacted
on caregivers’ actions and emotional well-being. Two themes are discussed: (1) whether relevant background worries are important
enough to be identified and responded to and (2) how such worries could be picked up and managed by professionals.
Conclusion: It is argued that the quality of clinical practice could be improved if specialist palliative care teams in community contexts
both identified and responded to significant support needs associated with family carers’ relevant background worries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-959
Number of pages10
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number5
Early online date5 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


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