family caregiver, health care, health care teams, medical knowledge, palliative



  1. Stadelmaier, Nena MSc
  2. Assemat, Laura MSc
  3. Paternostre, Bernard MD
  4. Bartholome, Cecile PhD
  5. Duguey-Cachet, Odile MD
  6. Quintard, Bruno PhD


This comparative and exploratory multicenter study explored the experiences of 2 groups of family members caring for relatives in palliative phases of cancer: caregivers practicing health care professionals (doctors/nurses) and caregivers who were not health care professionals. The ill family members of the 2 groups were also interviewed. Twenty-seven volunteer caregiving relatives (including 16 health professionals) and 18 cancer patients participated in psychologist-conducted semistructured interviews exploring psychological experiences of the support (including daily, personal, and medical care) and, for caregivers, of the interactions with medical teams. Interviews were recorded and transcribed for inductive thematic analysis. Caregiving relatives, irrespective of their profession, all reported developing closer bonds with their relative since the cancer diagnosis and being highly involved in the palliative care. They also all reported psychological stress with additional stress linked to health care professionals' acute knowledge of the disease and treatments often experienced as a burden. Whereas non-health care professional caregivers reported hope for favorable disease progression, health professional caregivers did not. Interactions with the health care team were generally described as satisfactory. A minority of health care professional caregivers reported difficulties when the health care team perceived their investment in the patient's care as negative. Patients' perceptions were consistent with caregiver perceptions.