Family caregiver's experiences in caring for a patient with terminal cancer at home in Japan

Tomomi Sano, Etsuko Maeyama, Masako Kawa, Yuki Shirai, Mitsunori Miyashita, Keiko Kazuma, Takeshi Okabe

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The aim of the study was to clarify the care experience of primary caregivers when caring for a terminal cancer patient in the home with the assistance of a home palliative care service. Participants were asked to provide background data and to evaluate their experience of caregiving and of the patient's response throughout the period of home palliative care, up to the time of death. Methods: One hundred twelve primary family caregivers were a mailed self-report questionnaire, and 74 valid questionnaires were returned (response rate 66%). Results: Ninety percent felt that the patient's condition of mind and body was reasonably stable, and 75% felt that the death was peaceful. About 90% reported a deepening of their bond with the patient and that the bond of other family members deepened also. Sixty percent reported that the burden of caregiving was not too great or not felt at all. Approximately 90% judged that the patient retained his or her own personal qualities to the end. Ninety percent also felt that they had done their best in their caregiving and judged that home care had been beneficial for the deceased, for the primary caregiver him/herself, and for other family members. These primary caregivers' evaluations of caring for a terminally ill patient at home in conjunction with a home palliative care service were both high and positive. Significance of results: Our findings suggest that it is important to maintain the patient's personal qualities up to the time of death through appropriate symptom management, to respect the family bond of the household, and to provide professional support in order to reduce the load on the family. If appropriate care is provided, peaceful home death will be possible, resulting in significant benefits for patients and their families in Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-395
Number of pages7
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Dec


  • Care experience
  • Family caregiver
  • Home death
  • Home palliative care
  • Terminal cancer patient


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