Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the significance of fatigue among relatives of palliative patients.
Method: This pilot study has a descriptive and cross-sectional design and is the report of four open-ended questions focusing on the relatives' experiences of fatigue. The study population consisted of relatives of patients who were cared for in palliative care settings either at home or in an institution in Uppsala County during a specific day.
Results: The relatives were very tired and identified worries, uncertainty, the patient's suffering, and many demands as the causes for the fatigue. The most obvious consequences of the tiredness were a lack of motivation, feelings of insufficiency and apathy, and putting their own interests aside. Many relatives expressed that having the company of close family members, taking exercise and spending time outdoors gave them strength to carry on. The health care system could make the situation easier for relatives of patients in palliative care by providing good care for the patient, and psychosocial support and respite care for the relatives.
Significance of results: The result of the pilot study is only preliminary, but it showed that relatives caring for patients in a late palliative phase suffer from great fatigue and require more attention, both scientifically and in the clinical settings.
2010. Vol. 8, 137-142 p.