• palliative care;
  • cancer;
  • caregivers;
  • hospice care;
  • ethnic groups;
  • end of life needs;
  • terminally ill;
  • cultural competence


A major challenge to occupational therapists working in palliative care is determining the best ways to help family caregivers who are caring for family members. The purpose of this study was to explore palliative caregiver occupations among Māori, Chinese and Tongan ethnicities. Six informants participated, one woman and one man from each ethnic group. In each of their homes, informants were asked to discuss what it was like caring for their dying family member. The occupational themes resulting from these interviews were food preparation, spirituality and family gathering. Therapists need to be aware of the differences in how people care for family members within their ethnicity. Implications are that occupational therapists can help families identify activities important to them within the main occupational themes: different types of foods and their preparations, various ways to express spirituality and how families gather together members of their extended family. Further, clinicians need to take on the role of a “not-knowing” but curious health-care provider in order to meet the needs of caregivers. The limitation was the small number of participants who all lived in one geographic area. Future studies should include a wider group of ethnicities. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.