Contextual Assessment of Family Caregivers’ Knowledge and Practice of Palliative Care for Cancer Patients in Samoa: A Pacific Island Qualitative Study

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Vicky Yemoh
Lawal Olayemi
Jyothi Alex Abraham
Taua’itala Lees
Fuamatala Tofilua
Ma’atasesa Samuelu-Matthes
Su’a John Ryan
Mika Eteuati
Leniu Asaua Faasino


Family Caregivers, Cancer Patients, Palliative Care, Knowledge, Practice



Background: Most cancer patients experience a huge burden of psychosocial and socio-ecological issues. These may be addressed by offering quality palliative care for cancer patients and family caregivers who form an important part of the care process. Little is known about the role of family caregivers in palliative care in Samoa. In this study, we investigated the family caregivers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices of palliative care for cancer patients.

Methods: We conducted a descriptive qualitative study utilizing semi-structured in-depth interviews with family caregivers of cancer patients in Samoa. We employed a purposive, selective sample of family caregivers (n=30) from the Samoa Cancer Society’s client database.  Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and translated into English from Samoan. The data from transcripts were analyzed using a thematic analysis framework.

Results: Six themes were identified: i. lack of experience and knowledge in providing palliative care, ii. early/late detection and continuation of treatment, iii. health education and accessing palliative care services, iv. decision-making and daily activities, v. coping strategies and vi. support from government and other agencies. Participants emphasized the need for efficient communication, health education and close involvement with healthcare professionals from the early stage of disease diagnosis to the end stage. Strong coping strategies including religious beliefs and family support were expressed by family caregivers to assist with financial, social, physical and psychological burden.

Conclusion: Family caregivers in Samoa require more awareness on palliative care delivery. Implementing palliative care policies will ensure adequate coverage for unmet needs associated with quality practice of palliative care. Government and non-governmental agencies should collaborate to provide general assistance on financial support schemes and specialized health care services to assist family caregivers and cancer patients to achieve their goals.


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