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Costs of family caregiving in palliative care

School of Health Sciences

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About the Project

This PhD presents a unique opportunity for a student to undertake a mixed methods health services research project within the Palliative and End of Life Care research group at The University of Sheffield. Family caregivers play an important role in the care of patients who are receiving palliative care. We know that the support of a family caregiver can mean a person is more likely to be able stay at home for longer, and to die at home if that is their wish. However, being a family caregiver can be challenging, and research has found carers can suffer physical, psychological and emotional consequences. One area that has received very little research attention is the financial impact of being a carer, particularly a carer for someone who is receiving palliative care. The consequences of failing to address the financial burden of caregiving are potentially catastrophic, as family carers are central in the provision of high quality care for patients at the end of life, and supporting these carers is paramount for NHS provision of palliative care.

The aim of this PhD is to establish the financial impact of family caregiving for patients receiving palliative care, and explore the implications of these costs. A mixed methods research design will be used. The quantitative phase will use a questionnaire to collect information from family caregivers of patients receiving palliative care, on any costs incurred related to the caring role. This includes costs related to changes in employment, out of pocket expenses (e.g. travel costs, medications) and costs related to time dedicated to caring (Gardiner 2014). The second phase of the study will involve qualitative interviews with family caregivers. During interviews family carers will be asked about the impact of the costs of caring and to identify what support would help them in managing these costs.

Quantitative and qualitative research methods will be used and we would encourage students to think creatively in adopting and developing methods that are creative as well as acceptable and accessible to participants.

We request a provisional protocol to be submitted with the application. Potential applicants can contact Dr Clare Gardiner for information regarding this.

Funding Notes

• First or Upper Second class honours degree in a health related subject.
• Research experience
• Understanding of health services research ethics and knowledge of conducting research with vulnerable participants.

• Masters in health services research or similar
• Experience of working with people approaching the end of life and/or family caregivers


Gardiner C, Brereton L, Frey R, Wilkinson-Meyers L, Gott M. "Exploring the financial impact of caring for family members receiving palliative and end of life care: A systematic review of the literature". Palliative Medicine 2014; 28(5): 375 – 390
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