Background: Family caregivers in palliative care often report feeling insufficiently prepared to handle the caregiver role. Preparedness has been confirmed as a variable that may actually protect family caregiver well-being. Preparedness refers to how ready family caregivers perceive they are for the tasks and demands in the caregiving role.
Aim: The aim of this study was to explore factors associated with preparedness and to further investigate whether preparedness is associated with caregiver outcomes.
Design: This was a correlational study using a cross-sectional design. Setting/participants: The study took place in three specialist palliative care units and one haematology unit. A total of 125 family caregivers of patients with life-threatening illness participated.
Result: Preparedness was significantly associated with higher levels of hope and reward and with a lower level of anxiety. In contrast, preparedness was not associated with depression or health. Being female and cohabiting with the patient were significantly associated with a higher level of preparedness. The relationship to the patient was significantly associated with preparedness, while social support, place of care, time since diagnosis and age of the patients showed no association.
Conclusion: Feelings of preparedness seem to be important for how family caregivers experience the unique situation when caring for a patient who is severely ill and close to death. Our findings support the inclusion of preparedness in support models for family caregivers in palliative care. Psycho-educational interventions could preferably be designed aiming to increase family caregiver’s preparedness to care, including practical care, communication and emotional support.