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Examining trust in health professionals among family caregivers of nursing home residents with advanced dementia

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Geriatrics and Gerontology International

Published online on


Aim In a context of increasing emphasis on shared decision‐making and palliative care in dementia, research on family caregivers’ trust in health professionals in advanced dementia is surprisingly scant. The aim of the present study was to assess trust in nursing home health professionals of family caregivers of nursing home residents with advanced dementia, and possible correlates, such as family caregivers’ satisfaction, involvement in care, care burden and patients’ symptom burden. Methods A cross‐sectional study was carried out using structured questionnaires administered through the telephone. Generalized estimating equation analyses with adjustment for nursing home clustering were applied to assess the most important associations with family caregivers’ trust. Results A total of 214 family caregivers of persons with dementia residing in 25 nursing homes participated in the study. The majority of the participants (67%) were women and adult children (75%). The majority of the family caregivers trusted physicians, nurses and nurses’ aides at a moderate‐to‐high level. Approximately half to one‐third reported moderate‐to‐low levels of trust. Higher levels of trust were associated with more positive care outcomes, such as higher family satisfaction with care and more positive evaluations of physician–family communication. Conclusions The present study showed the importance of family caregivers trusting nursing home health professionals for their experiences as caregivers. Although causation cannot be established, increased family caregivers’ trust in nursing home health professionals by improving communication and exchange of information might provide a good basis for providing optimal palliative care in advanced dementia. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2017; ••: ••–••.