Subjective perception of the passage of time in the patient and primary caregiver in hospital palliative care

Anna Rodríguez-Morera, R. Roca Casademont, M. Planes Pedra, M. E. Gras Pérez, R. Bayés Sopena

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    Abstract

    Objectives: to study the subjective perception of the passing of time among patients hospitalized in a Palliative Care Unit (PCU) and their primary caregivers. To find out agreement extent between perceived time in both. To explore personal, clinical, and psychosocial factors that may be related to this perception. Method: a descriptive study carried out in the Palliative Care Unit at Hospital Santa Caterina in Girona from May 1st 2005 to May 31st 2006. Ninety-six terminally ill patients and their primary caregivers took part in the survey. Results: in 41.7% of patients the subjective perception of the passage of time was described as "long" or "very long", while 28.1% considered it "short" or "very short." Time perception in patients was related to age and quality of the relationship with primary caregivers, with older people and those having a good relationship with their caregiver experiencing a faster passage of time. In contrast, the subjective perception of the passage of time in patients is unrelated to sex, days in a PCU, functional dependence for basic activities of daily living (BADL), seriousness of illness, and proximity of death, as well as the communication of positive and/or negative events during the day. Regarding primary caregivers, most of them find that time is "neither short nor long" (39.6%). No connection was observed between perceived passage of time in primary caregivers and hours in the hospital, days in the PCU, extent of functional dependence for BADL, communication of positive and/or negative events, and quality of patient-caregiver relationship. On the contrary, the subjective perception of the passage of time in caregivers was related to seriousness of illness and proximity of death, with time being perceived as longer with patient worsening. The subjective perceptions of the passage of time in patients and primary caregivers are unrelated. Patients and primary caregivers perceive the passage of time in a different way - time is longer for patients versus primary caregivers. Conclusions: in general, patients in a PCU perceive the passage of time as slightly slower when compared to their primary caregivers, leaving for a later analysis an evaluation of factors modulating this perception. The perceptions of the passage of time in patients and primary caregivers are unrelated, and both perceive the passage of time in hospital in a different way. In spite of these divergences other psychosocial aspects, such as a good relationship between both, may influence their perception. Thus, everything may become more pleasant and positive. It is possible that the simple fact of having a good relationship with the caregiver can be positively considered. In this sense, integrating in our healthcare system environmental resources and therapeutical techniques aimed at improving the relationship between patients and caregivers may improve wellbeing for both patients and primary caregivers at the end of life. Copyright © 2008 Aran Ediciones, S.L.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)200-204
    JournalMedicina Paliativa
    Volume15
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008

    Keywords

    • Caregivers
    • Hospitalization
    • Palliative care
    • Psychosocial distress
    • Suffering
    • Terminally ill
    • Time perception

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