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Empowering families to take on a palliative caregiver role for patients with cancer in India: Persistent challenges and promising strategies.

Fereydooni S, Lorenz KA, Ganesh A, Satija A, Spruijt O, Bhatnagar S, Gamboa RC, Singh N, Giannitrapani KF. Empowering families to take on a palliative caregiver role for patients with cancer in India: Persistent challenges and promising strategies. PLoS ONE. 2022 Sep 16; 17(9):e0274770.

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BACKGROUND: The population of patients with cancer requiring palliative care (PC) is on the rise in India. Family caregivers will be essential members of the care team in the provision of PC. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to characterize provider perspectives of the challenges that Indian families face in taking on a palliative caregiving role. METHOD: Data for this analysis came from an evaluation of the PC-PAICE project, a series of quality improvement interventions for PC in India. We conducted 44 in-depth semi-structured interviews with organizational leaders and clinical team members at seven geographically and structurally diverse settings. Through thematic content analysis, themes relating to the caregivers' role were identified using a combination of deductive and inductive approaches. RESULT: Contextual challenges to taking up the PC caregiving role included family members' limited knowledge about PC and cancer, the necessity of training for caregiving responsibilities, and cultural preferences for pursuing curative treatments over palliative ones. Some logistical challenges include financial, time, and mental health limitations that family caregivers may encounter when navigating the expectations of taking on the caregiving role. Strategies to facilitate family buy-in for PC provision include adopting a family care model, connecting them to services provided by Non-Governmental Organizations, leveraging volunteers and social workers to foster PC awareness and training, and responding specifically to family's requests. CONCLUSION: Understanding and addressing the various challenges that families face in adopting the caregiver role are essential steps in the provision and expansion of PC in India. Locally initiated quality improvement projects can be a way to address these challenges based on the context.

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