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Living in the Presence of Death: An Integrative Literature Review of Relatives' Important Existential Concerns when Caring for a Severely Ill Family Member
Mid Sweden University, Department of Health Sciences, Östersund, Sweden.
Bräcke Diakoni Foundation, Research Unit, Gothenburg, Sweden / Karolinska Institutet, Institution of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Medical Management Centre, Stockholm, Sweden / The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sweden.
Angered Local Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden / The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sweden.
University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences. Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Department of Oncology, Clinical Trial Unit. Gothenburg, Sweden / The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0976-531X
2012 (English)In: Open Nursing Journal, ISSN 1874-4346, Vol. 6, 1-12 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aim: The aim of this study was to explore relatives’ existential concerns when caring for a seriously ill family member as well as to describe interventions that meet these concerns.

Methods: In this integrative literature review we assessed and classified 17 papers, 12 qualitative and 5 quantitative. Literature was sought in the databases Cinahl, PubMed, Psykinfo and Web of Science in September 2009 and in March 2010. Search terms used in different combinations were: family, family caregiver, next of kin, relatives, palliative, palliative care, end-of-life care, existential, spirit*. Data were redrawn from the papers results/findings, and synthesized into a new descriptive content.

Results: The results were categorized from 13 papers exploring relatives’ important existential concerns and 4 papers describing interventions aimed to support them in the existential area. A majority of the reviewed papers had been written in Sweden and concerned relatives of patients with cancer. One overarching theme, living in the presence of death, and three categories: responses to life close to death; support when death is near; and beyond the presence of death were created.

Conclusion: There is an urgent demand for large-scale studies using accurate methodology, as well as a need to design qualified investigations regarding the effects of various interventions, and to determine which interventions are the most effective in supporting relatives who experience existential distress manifested physically and/or psychologically. There is also a considerable demand for educational interventions among professionals in various healthcare settings to increase their knowledge regarding existential concerns among relatives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bentham Open , 2012. Vol. 6, 1-12 p.
Keyword [en]
Cancer, end-of-life care, family, incurable illness, nursing, review
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Medical sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-5874DOI: 10.2174/1874434601206010001PubMedID: 22371820OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-5874DiVA: diva2:526580
Available from: 2012-05-14 Created: 2012-05-14 Last updated: 2015-03-04Bibliographically approved

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