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Who’s in charge? Results from a qualitative study of caregiver perspectives on the care transition process

Benjamin Shirley, Nathaniel Erskine, David D McManus, Catarina I Kiefe, Milena Anatchkova, Heena P Santry


Background: Care transitions are a topic of increasing interest as researchers and clinicians focus their effects on patient outcomes. Engaging caregivers, who play important roles in care transitions, may yield valuable insight into how care transition processes can be improved. 

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews, focusing on caregivers’ experiences with and perceptions of care transitions, with 11 eligible caregivers whose loved ones had recently experienced an unplanned admission to a single academic medical center. Our research team analyzed the transcripts to identify key themes.

Results: Caregivers detailed multiple factors affecting care transitions, including both in-hospital and external elements. Identifying the medical provider in charge of care emerged as a common difficulty. Other areas of interest included receiving discharge information, length of stay, health insurance status, the presence of social support, access to transportation and educational level, among others. Caregivers’ views on the quality of various in-hospital aspects of their own care transition experiences varied.

Conclusions: Caregivers re-affirmed the complexity of the care transition process by identifying myriad factors that influence their quality. Taking steps to address these factors may help hospitals to empower and engage caregivers, as well as to improve care transitions overall and better manage the health of their patients.


Caregiver perspectives, caregivers, discharge planning, follow-up, patient-centered care, patient discharge, patient education, patient satisfaction, person-centered healthcare, qualitative research, quality of care, socioeconomics, transition complexity

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