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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Family members’ perceptions of end-of-life care across diverse locations of care

Romayne Gallagher1* and Marian Krawczyk2

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Palliative Care, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Providence Health Care, University of British Columbia

2 Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

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BMC Palliative Care 2013, 12:25  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-12-25

Published: 20 July 2013



The goal of the study was to assess perceived level of satisfaction with end-of-life care, focusing on the last 48 hours of life.


A previously validated instrument was used in a telephone survey with bereaved family members (n=90) of patients who died within an organization in British Columbia.


Bereaved family members had many unmet needs for information about the patient’s changing condition, the process of dying, how symptoms would be managed and what to do at the time of death. In addition, many bereaved relatives felt that the patient or resident had an unmet need for emotional support and that their own emotional needs were not addressed adequately. The last place of care had the most significant effect on all of these variables, with acute care and residential care having the most unmet needs. Hospice had the fewest unmet needs, followed by the palliative and the intensive care units.


We discuss these findings in relation to overall satisfaction with care, focus on individual, ethno-cultural and diversity issues, information and decision-making, symptom management and attending to the family. We conclude by offering possible practices address the end-of-life needs of patients and family members.

Family satisfaction; End-of-life care; Palliative care; Acute care; Hospice; Residential care; Bereaved relative