Perceptions, knowledge and attitudes towards the concept and approach of palliative care amongst caregivers: a cross-sectional survey in Karachi, Pakistan

Sameena Shah, Faizan Qaisar, Iqbal Azam, Khairunnisa Mansoor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Limited comprehension of the concept of palliative care and misconceptions about it are barriers to meaningful utilisation of palliative care programs. As caregivers play an integral role for patients with terminal illness, it is necessary to assess their perceptions and attitudes towards the palliative care approach. Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted. Data was collected from the Aga Khan Hospital in-patient and out-patient departments and home-based palliative care services. All adult caregivers who met the inclusion criteria and consented, completed a questionnaire till the sample size was reached. Univariate and multivariate multivariable analysis was done and results were reported as crude prevalence’s, crude and adjusted prevalence ratios with 95% confidence intervals using Cox-proportional hazard algorithm. Mean difference of knowledge and attitude scores by caregiver variables were assessed using one-way ANOVA. SPSS version 18 was used and a p-value of less than 5% was treated as significant. Results: Out of 250 caregivers more than 60% were 40 years or less, majority were males and at least graduates. Approximately 70% of the respondents agreed with the statement that the person suffering from cancer should be informed about the diagnosis and disease progression. About 45% (95% C.I.: 39.03, 51.37%) of the study respondents had enhanced understanding about palliative care. Individuals under 40 years old, those with an education level of at least grade 10, children or relatives were found to have significantly more enhanced knowledge about palliative care. The majority believed that the patient should be informed about the diagnosis and should be facilitated to carry out routine activities and fulfill their wishes. Conclusion: Nearly half of the caregivers had enhanced understanding of the palliative care approach. They showed consistent understanding of two foundational aspects indicating correct knowledge across age groups, gender, education level, and relationship with the patient. Firstly, that palliative care should be offered to everyone suffering from a terminal illness and, secondly, that this approach encompasses not just physical, but also psychological and social needs of the patient and the family. These findings will help inform the establishment of a palliative care program that fills the gaps in comprehension and knowledge of caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number180
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Attitudes
  • Caregivers
  • Comprehension
  • Palliative care
  • Terminal illness


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