Timely referrals to hospice and family satisfaction
Colchin, Sharon Ann
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Approximately one-third of persons with a terminal illness utilize hospice care. Of those, ten percent only received hospice care during the last twenty-four hours of life. Late referrals to hospice can result in less time for the hospice team to perform assessments, establish relationships, and initiate mutually established goals requiring active interventions. Thus, the terminally ill person and their family may not receive the maximum benefits of hospice. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the length of hospice care and the level of family satisfaction. King's Theory of Goal Attainment (1995) was used to guide the investigation of the personal and interpersonal concepts that may influence family satisfaction. These concepts included: pain and symptom management (personal), communication/education, and emotional/spiritual support (both personal and interpersonal). For the purpose of this investigation, high levels of satisfaction with hospice care would be considered to be reflective of goal attainment. The setting was a small hospice agency in a western state and a convenience sample of returned Family Satisfaction Surveys (Hospice A, 2000) spanning a three year period were used. The returned surveys were grouped by length of care into the Short Term group (less than a month of hospice care before death) and Timely group (one month as longer hospice care before death). A combination of Chisquare and t-test comparisons of means was used to test the hypothesis that longer lengths of hospice care resulted in higher levels of the family satisfaction. No significant differences existed between family satisfaction and length of care. Overall, this study found the satisfaction level with hospice care was high regardless of length of care (a mean satisfaction of 4.5 on 5 point scale).