Study shows need for improved empathic communication between hospice teams and caregivers

February 26, 2013 by Allison Perry
Study shows need for improved empathic communication between hospice teams and caregivers
A new study authored by University of Kentucky researcher Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles shows that more empathic communication is needed between caregivers and hospice team members.

(Medical Xpress)—A new study authored by University of Kentucky researcher Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles shows that more empathic communication is needed between caregivers and hospice team members.

The study, published in Patient Education and Counseling, was done in collaboration with Debra Parker Oliver, professor in the University of Missouri Department of Family and Community Medicine. The team enrolled hospice family and interdisciplinary team members at two hospice agencies in the Midwestern United States.

Researchers analyzed the bi-weekly web-based videoconferences between and their hospice teams. The authors coded the data using the Empathic Communication (ECCS) and identified themes within and among the coded data. The team reviewed 82 total meetings.

Overall, the researchers noted that members of the hospice team tended to react to caregiver empathic opportunities with a perfunctory response, implicit recognition, or simple acknowledgement as defined by the ECCS scale. Most caregiver statements were met with biomedical or procedural talk from the hospice team.

Few responses went beyond to offer confirmation with a positive remark to the caregiver, and even fewer provided a shared experience to address the caregivers' emotional needs.

Prior research has shown that a physician's expression of empathy positively influences the patient-physician relationship, but as this study shows, this is often not the norm. Other research shows that physicians tend to respond more to informational cues from patients than , and often respond to patient concerns by turning the conversation to biomedical information or medical explanation, nonspecific acknowledgement or reassurance.

"This study shows the need for better empathic communication between caregivers and hospice team members," said Wittenberg-Lyles, who holds a joint appointment in the UK College of Communications and the UK Markey Cancer Center. "Improving communication about psychosocial issues, emotional losses and frustrations for the caregiver will lead to better patient-centered care for patients and their families."

Explore further: Study shows hospice caregivers need routine care interventions

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Vitamin D supplements could help pain management

May 23, 2017

Vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleeping habits may help manage pain-related diseases. This paper published in the Journal of Endocrinology, reviews published research on the relationship between vitamin D levels, ...

Recommended daily protein intake too low for the elderly

May 23, 2017

You can find the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) on the nutrition labels of all your processed food. Food manufacturers are obliged to list the nutritional value of their products, and therefore must mention the percent ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.