“I Was Ready to Take Him Home”: Next-of-Kin’s Accounts of Loved One’s Death During Hospice and Palliative Care Discussions in Veterans Affairs Medical Centers

Academic Article


  • This study explored next-of-kin's retrospective accounts of hospice and palliative care discussions for hospitalized veterans. In-depth, face-to-face interviews were used to generate narrative accounts of 78 next-of-kin's experience of their loved one's hospital care during the last days of the patient's life. One-third of participants reported taking part in a hospice or palliative care discussion during the patient's final hospitalization. In over one-half of those cases, the patients died before discharge or transfer to hospice or palliative care was accomplished. Hospice and palliative care discussions in the hospital setting shaped family perceptions of the patients’ care, directed family efforts in the days prior to death, and engendered anticipation of remaining quality time with the patient. Discussions about hospice or palliative care have meaning, emotional impact, practical effects, and unintended consequences for next-of-kin. Social workers in hospital settings can play a critical role in supporting family members through the hospice and palliative care discussion process and facilitate timely care transitions. They also can attend to the psychosocial concerns of family members, particularly when death occurs prior to discharge to hospice or transfer to an inpatient palliative care service.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Williams BR; Bailey FA; Noh H; Woodby LL; Wittich AR; Burgio KL
  • Start Page

  • 50
  • End Page

  • 73
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 1