Communication Between the Nurse and Family Caregiver in End-of-Life Care: A Review of the Literature

Susan E. Lowey, MS, RN, CHN, BC


Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. 2008;10(1):35-45. 

In This Article


The purpose of this article was to better understand the phenomenon of communication between the nurse and family caregiver during the last few days of life through examination of the literature. The nurse-patient relationship, family caregiver needs, communication, and experience of dying in EOL/hospice care are four interrelated subcategories that were explored to gain an understanding of the nature of this phenomenon. No studies focused specifically on the final days or hours of life, which would be an area for future research. There is a great importance at understanding the mechanisms of good quality EOL care for patients and their families. The process of dying and death is a transition from this world to the next and cannot be repeated or altered from what it is. The memories of that process and tragic event remain forever in the hearts and minds of the family caregivers left behind. If the nature surrounding the death of a loved one is unpleasant or painful based on lack of quality care, those memories accompany the thoughts of the demise of their loved one. It is crucial that EOL care be the best quality, with sensitive and empathetic clinicians providing care to both dying patients and their families.


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