Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Early integrated palliative approach for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: A narrative study of bereaved caregivers’ experiences

Journal title
Palliative medicine
Publication year
Pooler, C.; Richman-Eisenstat, J.; Kalluri, M.

BACKGROUND: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis has an uncertain and rapid trajectory after diagnosis. Palliative care is rarely utilized, although both patients and caregivers experience a distressingly high symptom burden. Most patients die in hospital. AIM: The purpose of this study was to explore bereaved caregivers’ experiences and perceptions of an early integrated palliative approach implemented at a Multidisciplinary Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic. DESIGN: A narrative approach was used, with thematic and content analysis of open-ended interviews. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: The clinic is located in a large western Canadian city. Caregivers of deceased patients were recruited through purposive sampling. The eight participants were either spouses or adult children. RESULTS: Five major themes were identified: Having a Terminal Disease; Planning Goals and Wishes for Care; Living Life and Creating Memories; Feeling Strain and Responsibility; and Nearing the End. Caregivers had little understanding of prognosis prior to advance care planning conversations at the clinic. Advance care planning conversations enabled caregivers to know and support patients’ goals and wishes. Caregivers described feeling informed, prepared, and supported when death was near. They expressed neither distress nor anxiety related to patients’ symptoms or strain of relationships. CONCLUSION: Collaboration and close communication among caregivers, respirologists, and home care enabled effective symptom management and out of hospital deaths. Patients and caregivers had opportunities to enjoy events, create memories, determine preferences, and make plans. Further research on an early integrated palliative approach in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is warranted related to quality of life, experience with death and dying, and caregiver bereavement.

Research abstracts