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Researchers focus on helping dying patients take care of unfinished business
Date:11/17/2009

lead the study of 200 family members who have someone near the end of life or have died.

Among those issues can be forgiveness. Exline, who has studied forgiving oneself, others and God over the past decade, will survey family members before and after the death of the loved one to see how hospice workers can help them as they undergo the emotional stress of caring for this seriously ill family member and then the challenges of bereavement.

With Fetzer Foundation support, Exline will lead the researchers in testing new survey tools to help determine how hospice workers can help family members.

The researchers will collaborate with healthcare workers from the Hospice of the Western Reserve, who will distribute questionnaires for those with a family member in hospice home care. Another group of family members will be interviewed during the bereavement period.

A primary caretaker in the family will answer questions that define some of the issues and emotions experienced at this time. The researchers will start by asking an open-ended question such as "If you had an opportunity to say something to your family member, what would it be?" Other detailed questions will follow.

The researchers will conduct another study during bereavement to assess if there are any unresolved issues with the deceased family member and if there is a continued bond with that family member.

Exline is interested in how people experience struggle and how forgiveness is part of that process.

According to Prince-Paul, the research projects focus on taking this new direction by building on human strengths even at the time when people may have little resources left.

The researchers plan to take their findings and translate them into practice.


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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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