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terminal illness, bereavement, home nursing care



  1. McCorkle, Ruth
  2. Robinson, Linda
  3. Nuamah, Isaac
  4. Lev, Elise
  5. Benoliel, Jeanne Quint


Background: Although some studies have examined the effects of terminal illness care models such as hospice care on survivor outcomes, no studies could be found that examined whether nursing care affected such outcomes.


Objective: To determine whether specialized oncology home care services provided to terminally ill patients with lung cancer positively influenced bereavement psychological distress among survivors, compared with other models of care.


Methods: A secondary analysis was performed to test the effects of home nursing care for terminally ill patients on spousal psychological distress during bereavement. Forty-six patient-spousal dyads were randomly assigned to either an oncology home care group (OHC), a standard home care group, or an office care control group. Patient-spousal dyads were entered into the study 2 months after the patient's diagnosis of lung cancer and received follow-up until the patient died. Bereaved spouses continued to receive follow-up for 25 months after the patient's death.


Results: Psychological distress was significantly lower initially among spouses of patients that received the OHC intervention compared with the other two groups. Significant mean group differences were found on the subscales of depression and paranoid ideation; marginal group differences were found on the subscales of hostility and psychoticism. There were no significant differences among the groups at 25 months.


Conclusions: These results suggest that the bereaved's psychological distress can be positively influenced depending on how their loved one is cared for during the terminal phase of illness.