Family caregivers are crucial in end-of-life care. However, family caregiving may involve a significant burden with various negative health consequences. Although nurses are in a unique position to support family caregivers at home, little is known about which nursing interventions are effective in this context. Therefore, this study aims to provide insight into nursing interventions currently available to support family caregivers in end-of-life care at home and to describe their effects.
A systematic search was conducted in Embase, Medline Ovid, Web of Science, Cochrane Central, CINAHL and Google Scholar. This review included quantitative studies published from January 2003 until December 2018 reporting on nursing interventions to support adult family caregivers in end-of-life care at home. Data were extracted on intervention modalities, intervention components, and family caregivers’ outcomes. Methodological quality of the studies was assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool.
Out of 1531 titles, nine publications were included that reported on eight studies/eight interventions. Of the eight studies, three were randomised controlled trials, one a pilot randomised trial, one a non-randomised trial, and three were single-group prospective studies. Four intervention components were identified: psychoeducation, needs assessment, practical support with caregiving, and peer support. Psychoeducation was the most commonly occurring component. Nursing interventions had a positive effect on the preparedness, competence, rewards, and burden of family caregivers. Multicomponent interventions were the most effective with, potentially, the components ‘needs assessment’ and ‘psychoeducation’ being the most effective.
Although only eight studies are available on nursing interventions to support family caregivers in end-of-life care at home, they show that interventions can have a positive effect on family caregivers’ outcomes. Multicomponent interventions proved to be the most successful, implying that nurses should combine different components when supporting family caregivers.