To examine and compare health care provider perceptions for integrating family caregivers into patient encounters and other processes of care by medical specialty.
Data were from 19 interviews conducted in 2018, 10 with primary care or palliative care providers and nine with proceduralists or interventionists in practices located in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona.
This was a qualitative study using data collected from one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with physicians.
By using purposeful “maximum variation” sampling to capture differences between primary and palliative care providers and proceduralists/interventionists, data were collected, reviewed, coded, and then analyzed using inductive content analysis with a constant comparison approach.
Primary care providers described a lack of organizational and institutional resources to support caregivers. Accordingly, they were compelled to curb caregiver engagement in order to meet patients’ clinical care needs within the time and workflow demands in encounters. Proceduralists and interventionists described the need to assess caregivers for suitability to provide care during intense periods of treatment. They reported having access to more formal organizational resources for supporting caregivers. Overall, providers described a paradox, where caregivers are seen as contributing value to patient encounters until they need training, education, or support to provide care, at which point they become burdensome and require more time and resources than are typically available.
Results highlight how organizational constraints inhibit caregiver engagement in patient encounters and influence provider attitudes about engaging caregivers and assessing their unmet needs. Findings also provide insights into challenges across practice types for implementing state and federal laws that promote caregiver engagement.