Exploring Caregivers’ Understanding of Palliative Care for Older People in Thailand

Author: Pattaraporn Koonmee

Koonmee, Pattaraporn, 2022 Exploring Caregivers’ Understanding of Palliative Care for Older People in Thailand, Flinders University, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

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The number of people who need palliative care is rising due to the increase of an aging population. Most people receiving palliative care are older people who live in their homes and are cared for by family caregivers. Barrier to providing palliative care for this population are widely reported in the literature. One of factors contributing to the situation is the lack of support for family caregivers of older people receiving palliative care.

Aim and objectives

The aim of this study was to explore caregivers’ understanding of palliative care for older people who live with a life-threatening illness in the Thai community. The objectives were to identify caregivers’ perceptions of: 1) enablers in palliative care and 2) the barriers of palliative care for community dwelling older people in Thailand.


The study was conducted using descriptive qualitative methodology. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 13 caregivers. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.


Three themes were identified from data analysis, and they were: 1) Various understanding of palliative care; 2) Palliative care services; and 3) Caregiver stress and coping strategies. First, caregivers showed different levels of understanding of palliative care depending on their experiences and knowledge about palliative care. Caregivers received little to no information about palliative care from health professionals. Therefore, they showed very limited understanding of the meaning of palliative care. Second, although palliative care services had been provided in Thailand, caregivers perceived barriers to receiving palliative care, especially health education for caregivers and continuity of palliative when the people they cared for were discharged from the hospital. In addition, caregivers perceived difficulty in providing care for people receiving palliative care. They experienced stress and distress.


This study illustrated that palliative care for older people in Thailand was available, but health education for caregivers and care services that support family caregivers to care for older people living with life-threatening diseases was lacking. Findings have implications for policy, care services and education, and resource development in palliative care in Thailand.

Keywords Palliative care, older people, caregiver, understanding of palliative care.

Keywords: Palliative care, older people, caregiver, understanding of palliative care, Thailand

Subject: Nursing thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2022
School: College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Supervisor: Lily Xiao