Knowledge Gaps in End-Of-Life Family Caregiving for Persons Living With Dementia: A Study of Hospice Clinician Perspectives

Meghan McDarby, David Russell, Lori King, Elissa Kozlov, Elizabeth A. Luth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: More than 35% of hospice care recipients 65 and older have a dementia diagnosis. Yet family care partners of persons living with dementia report feeling unprepared to address their hospice recipient’s changing needs nearing end of life. Hospice clinicians may have unique insight into the knowledge needs of family care partners and strategies for end-of-life dementia caregiving. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 hospice physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and social workers. Interview transcripts were deductively analyzed using thematic analysis to examine clinicians’ perspectives on gaps and strategies related to family care partner knowledge about end-of-life dementia caregiving. Results: We identified 3 themes related to gaps in family care partners’ knowledge: dementia is a progressive, fatal disease; end-of-life symptoms and symptom management in persons living with advanced dementia; and understanding hospice goals and guidelines. Three themes related to clinicians’ strategies to increase knowledge included: providing education; teaching strategies to facilitate coping and preparedness for end-of-life care; and communicating with empathy. Discussion: Clinicians perceive gaps in knowledge specific to dementia and end of life among family care partners. These gaps include a lack of understanding of Alzheimer’s symptom progression and strategies to manage common symptoms. Recommendations for approaches to reduce knowledge gaps include providing education and strategies delivered with empathy toward the family care partner experience. Conclusion: Clinicians who work with persons living with dementia receiving hospice care have valuable insights regarding family care partners’ gaps in knowledge. Implications on the training and preparation of hospice clinicians working with this care partner population are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


  • caregiver knowledge
  • caregiving
  • dementia
  • end of life
  • hospice care
  • hospice clinicians


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