cancer, caregiver, comfort, family, palliative care



  1. Washington, Karla T. PhD, LCSW
  2. Benson, Jacquelyn J. PhD
  3. Chakurian, Daphne E. BSN, RN, PHN, CCM
  4. Popejoy, Lori L. PhD, RN, FAAN
  5. Demiris, George PhD, FACMI
  6. Rolbiecki, Abigail J. PhD, MPH, MSW
  7. Oliver, Debra Parker PhD, MSW


Rapid expansion of outpatient palliative care has been fueled by the growing number of people living with cancer and other chronic illnesses whose symptoms are largely managed in the community rather than inpatient settings. Nurses and other palliative care professionals support seriously ill patients and their families, yet little research has specifically examined the needs of cancer family caregivers receiving services from outpatient palliative care teams. To address this gap in the knowledge base, researchers conducted a reflective thematic analysis of qualitative interviews conducted with 39 family caregivers, using Comfort Theory as a theoretical guide. Seven themes describing caregivers' comfort needs were identified, including the need to understand, need for self-efficacy, need to derive meaning, need for informal support, need for formal support, need for resources, and need for self-care. Findings have clear implications for palliative nursing, as they directly address cancer family caregivers' needs in 5 of the 8 domains of care delineated by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care's Clinical Practice Guidelines. Comprehensive, holistic nursing assessment is suggested to identify family caregivers' needs and plan for delivery of evidence-based interventions shown to decrease burden and improve quality of life.