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Palliative care needs in Parkinson's disease: focus on anticipatory grief in family carers

Background: A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (PD) has a significant psychological impact on both the person diagnosed and their loved ones, and can have a negative effect on family relationships. Caring for someone with a long-term progressing illness may cause anticipatory grief, i.e., experienced before a bereavement. This has been widely studied in illnesses such as dementia and cancer, but less so in relation to PD. The study aims were: (I) to demonstrate the occurrence of anticipatory grief experienced by carers of people with PD; (II) to explore how this grief relates to caregiver burden and caregiver depression and demographic variables. Methods: Family carers of people with moderate to advanced PD (Hoehn & Yahr stages 3-5) were invited to complete a survey, including demographic questions and three questionnaires: Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI); 16-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS); and Anticipatory Grief Scale (AGS). Results: Anticipatory grief was common among carers of people with PD [mean AGS score =70.41; standard deviation (SD) =16.93; sample range, 38-102]. Though distinct concepts, carers with higher burden and depression scores also experienced more anticipatory grief symptoms. Carers experiencing higher anticipatory grief tended to be caring for someone of a younger age, displaying more non-motor symptoms, at a more advanced disease stage, and who considered either themselves and/or their loved one as depressed. Conclusions: Carers of people with advanced PD experienced anticipatory grief, as well as depression and a high caregiver burden. To improve carer outcomes, our focus should include the period both before and after the death of a loved one, and carers should receive regular psychological assessment and support.

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
AME Publishing Company
Publication Year
Issue Number
Suppl 1
Journal Titles
Annals of Palliative Medicine
Volume Number
Start Page
End Page