Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Hospice care linked to less depression in relatives  


The spouses of patients receiving hospice report fewer depression symptoms than those of patients receiving end of life care in other settings, according to a US study.

It found spouses of those receiving hospice for three or more days more frequently reported a “modest” reduction in symptoms of depression, compared to the spouses of patients who did not receive hospice care.

The authors, from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said currently 45% of terminally-ill patients in the US died while receiving hospice care.

They analysed data from 1,016 deceased patients and their surviving spouses, who were then followed through bereavement up to two years after death.

The researchers found that improvement in depressive symptoms was more common among those who had used a hospice – a benefit that was even more pronounced a year after death.

“We should consider the potential benefit not just to the patient, but to the caregiver”

Katherine Ornstein

However, they noted that it was unknown which specific aspects of hospice care were associated with improved symptoms for spouses.

Hospice services included medical services, symptom management, spiritual counselling, social services and bereavement counselling delivered by an interdisciplinary team of professionals for patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live and who agree to forego curative treatments.

Lead author Katherine Ornstein, assistant professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Mount Sinai, said: “We know hospice provides high quality care to patients, but now we’re also seeing a benefit for spouses.

“If we want to understand the impact of hospice care, we should consider the potential benefit not just to the patient, but to the caregiver, and perhaps, the entire family and social network,” she said.  

The findings have been published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.


Readers' comments (2)

  • For Hospice read Nursing Home and then it applies to the UK

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Efforts of Nursing Homes under appreciated as usual.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.