Sadness, anxiety, and experiences with emotional support among Veteran and non-Veteran patients and their families at the end of life

Document Type




Although many veterans are progressing into older adulthood and a substantive subset of people who die each year in the United States served in the military, there is limited evidence on the role of military service at the end of life.


The objective of the study was to examine differences in caregivers' perceptions of sadness and anxiety at the end of life between veteran and nonveteran patients and levels of contentment with the emotional support provided to the patient and family by hospice staff.


This cross-sectional study used clinical information from the Family Evaluation of Hospice Care (FEHC) survey administered to caregivers of a patient who received hospice services. The sample in this study included 560 individuals who completed the FEHC survey (from December 2007 to April 2013) after receiving services at a large hospice in an urban southwestern U.S. city. Caregivers responded to questions on the FEHC survey about demographic information, perceptions of the patient's level of sadness/anxiety, and the emotional support the patient and family received from hospice staff. In addition, information regarding veteran status was obtained from patients' medical records.


Caregivers of veterans were significantly more likely to report that the patient experienced sadness/anxiety at the end of life, as well as a desire for more emotional support for the family from hospice staff after the death.


Results provide preliminary evidence for veteran status being a risk factor for emotional distress at the end of life, highlighting the possible need for augmented support services for veterans and their families in hospice and palliative care.


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy | Psychological Phenomena and Processes


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