Date of Paper

5-2017

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Melissa Lundquist

Department/School

Master of Social Work

Abstract

Social workers employed in end-of-life care settings are in a unique position to engage with family caregivers who are at a heightened risk for experiencing caregiver burden, which can have detrimental impacts on the caregivers’ health and wellbeing. Even though the National Association of Social Workers (2004) directs social workers specialized in palliative care to assess the complex needs of and provide helpful interventions to family caregivers, research suggests that this objective often fails to be met. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the ability for palliative care social workers to assess family caregivers for caregiver burden and to address those concerns. Through the use of a qualitative design, five palliative care social workers participated in a semi-structured interview to gain their perspective on their work with family caregivers experiencing caregiver burden. The findings from this study indicated that palliative care social workers view family caregivers as an important recipient of their services. Additionally, the findings highlighted the lack of formal assessment tools used by palliative care social workers to assess for caregiver burden and, instead, described a more observational and conversational approach to assessment. Even though the participants indicated a wide range of intervention methods for caregiver burden, the findings also indicated that there are numerous barriers that often prevent palliative care social workers from employing those interventions. Overall, this study underscores the ways in which palliative care social workers assess and address caregiver burden as well as shedding light on the barriers that often stand in their way.

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Social Work Commons

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