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Transitions from hospital to long-term care - Family caregivers (completed)

The Roles and Experiences of Family Caregivers of Elderly Patients in Transition from Hospital to Community Care

About the project

This Ph.D. study is part of a multi-centre study called "Transitions from hospital to long-term care".


The aim of this Ph.D. study is to explore the family caregivers’ experiences and perspectives on the discharge process and the period following discharge when people, 80 years and older, move from hospital to community care. Specifically to:

  • Achieve a deeper understanding of the kinds of roles family caregivers assume during and after discharge and which factors influence their roles
  • Explore the relationship between the family caregivers’ roles and the patient’s functioning post-discharge
  • Elucidate the family caregivers’ experiences of their influence and degree of involvement in the discharge process


Three scientific articles have been published.



Every day a large number of elderly persons are discharged from hospital to community care. Elderly people are unanimously described as vulnerable during the discharge process. They have multi-faceted care requirements due to complex and interrelated health problems that are found to be important predictors of re-admissions and/or hastened transition into nursing home.

National and international research shows that family members provide the majority of care to older people following discharge. Close to 80% of the care is provided by family members and other informal caregivers, mainly wives and daughters. Shorter hospital stays and increasing emphasis on home care contributes to a trend of increased informal care in the community. This contemporary change in the source of support for older people to more dependence on family care accentuates the need for more focus on family and informal caregivers’ issues during the discharge process and following discharge. There is a lack of research that sheds light on significant aspects family caregivers’ roles and views particularly in relation to the transition process after the discharge of elderly patients to community care.

The data collection for the main project "Transitions from hospital to long-term care" was concluded in June 2009. This Ph.D. study has a mixed methods design.  The empirical material consists of both quantitative and qualitative data. It includes personal interviews with 254 patients 80 years and older recruited from 67 municipalities in Norway discharged from 14 hospitals. In addition 262 family caregivers of the patients were interviewed by telephone. Altogether the existing empirical material consists of 516 interviews associated with 330 patient discharges from hospital.

To supplement the data collected for the main project, follow-up telephone interviews with 19 family caregivers were conducted in 2010. These were semi-structured qualitative interviews focusing on the family caregivers' experiences during and after the discharge.


Christina Foss (Main supervisor)

Marit Kirkevold (Co-supervisor)


  • Department of Nursing Science, University of Oslo
  • Norwegian Research Council (NFR)


  • Gjøvik University College (HiG)
  • Norwegian Social Research (NOVA)
  • SINTEF Health

Project start - Finish



Bragstad, Line Kildal: Kirkevold, Marit & Foss, Christina (2014). The indispensable intermediaries: a qualitative study of informal caregivers’ struggle to achieve influence at and after hospital discharge. BMC Health Services Research, Vol. 14:331 Doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-14-331

Bragstad, Line Kildal; Kirkevold, Marit; Hofoss, Dag & Foss, Christina (2014). Informal caregivers' participation when older adults in Norway are discharged from the hospital . Health & Social Care in the Community; 22(2) 155-168. ISSN 0966-0410. . doi: 10.1111/hsc.12071

Bragstad, Line Kildal; Kirkevold, Marit; Hofoss, Dag; Foss, Christina. (2012) Factors predicting a successful post-discharge outcome for individuals aged 80 years and over. International Journal of Integrated Care 2012 ;Volum 12. 10 February 2012.

Published Apr. 29, 2011 5:35 PM - Last modified Feb. 9, 2022 12:20 PM