Caregiver Burden Detection in Palliative Care

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Barlow, Casandra
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Background: Caregiver burden that goes undetected negatively impacts both the caregiver and the patient. Undetected caregiver burden can lead to caregiver strain and an increased risk for developing psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress (National Family Caregiver Support Program, 2023). The purpose of this quality improvement project is to facilitate caregiver burden screening at palliative care visits to increase detection of caregiver burden, which will lead to the provision of accessible resources that can alleviate the burden experienced by caregivers. Methods: A total of 14 palliative care informal caregivers participated in a study aimed at assessing caregiver burden using the ZBI 12-item tool during palliative care admissions and services. The primary objective involved utilizing the ZBI tool to screen for caregiver burden, while the secondary objective involved referral to caregiver support services based on screening scores. Caregiver burden was reevaluated at subsequent provider visits. Results: The mean age range of participants was 60-69 years, with 64.29% being females and all participants being of Caucasian race. Pre-intervention, all participants exhibited caregiver burden, with scores ranging from 4 to 34. Post-intervention, burden persisted in all participants, with scores ranging from 5 to 31, reflecting a 39-point reduction compared to pre-intervention scores. Despite interventions leading to a 39-point decrease in ZBI scores, indicating an improvement in caregiver burden, the paired samples t-test did not yield statistical significance (t (13) = 2.14, p = .052). Conclusion: The study indicated the significance of addressing caregiver burden in palliative care to lessen caregiver burnout and enhance the quality of care, despite non-significant statistical findings. Detecting and intervening on caregiver burden remains crucial for improving both caregiver well-being and patient outcomes in palliative care contexts.