What If… Caregivers' Subsequent Workforce Participation Was a Measure of Palliative Care Services' Impact? An Hypothesis-Generating Study

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Journal of palliative medicine


Background: Hospice/palliative care emphasizes excellent care for patients, but what about longer-term caregiver outcomes after their caregiving role? What is the role of services in working to ensure that caregivers can re-engage with all aspects of life, including paid employment given that this is an identified stressor for caregivers? Aim: This hypothesis-generating study aimed to explore self-reported, post-care workforce participation, and any association with hospice/palliative care contact. Design: Cross-sectional random population interviews. Setting/Participants: People in the general population were randomly selected for face-to-face interviews about well-being including end-of-life care in South Australia. Questions included experiences of people dying an expected death and whether interviewees provided care. Demographic data included current workforce participation. A regression model explored associations with workforce participation. Results: Of 8945 interviews over three years, 171 participants aged 20-60 years (working age) provided intermittent hands-on care: two in five were men and two in three had qualifications beyond high school; one in two decedents had accessed palliative care services. Reflecting the bivariable analyses, logistic regression models showed associations with workforce participation and: being male (odds ratio [OR] 6.71); use of palliative care services (OR 4.85); and higher levels of education (OR 3.54). Conclusion: An association between workforce participation after caregiving ceased and the use of palliative care services was described, controlling for key factors. Reasons may include continued working, greater rates of return to work, earlier return to work or that people in the workforce are more likely to access services.

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