Family Caregivers' Experiences with Community Services: A Qualitative Analysis


Betty Wehtje Winslow, Loma Linda University, School of Nursing, Loma Linda, CA 92350. E-mail:


Abstract  Researchers of family caregiving have presented mixed results in evaluating the effectiveness of community services in reducing family caregiver stress and have indicated that many caregivers use limited services or access services late in their caregiving experience. The purpose of this study was to describe the experience of the use of community services, including benefits and barriers, by family caregivers of relatives with Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder. Community services included assistance with caregiving or related tasks and educational or emotional support that was provided by health professionals or community service providers. In this qualitative descriptive study, a convenience sample of 21 family caregivers was interviewed. Open-ended questions were used to explore the caregivers' experiences with community services. Transcribed data were analyzed using qualitative content-analysis techniques. Results indicated that family caregivers received benefits of renewal, sense of community, and new knowledge and believed that their patient benefited from the services. Barriers to service use included care receiver resistance, reluctance of the caregiver, hassles for the caregiver, concerns over quality, and concerns over finances. These findings provide direction for community nurses and other health professionals in targeting interventions that will meet the expressed needs of caregivers.