Volunteers as facilitators of communication about pain: A feasibility study

Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles*, George Demiris, Betty Ferrell, Sara Shaunfield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Often unskilled for the hospice caregiving role, family members who provide patient care at home need support to facilitate pain management. Volunteers who serve as members of the hospice team may be able to complement staff efforts to discuss pain with caregivers. A pilot project was developed to determine if volunteers could be trained to facilitate communication about pain with family caregivers. Two hospice volunteers were trained and three family caregivers received the intervention in their homes. Caregivers and volunteers were interviewed about the experience. Both caregivers and volunteers reported a rewarding and positive experience. Caregivers prioritized the need to talk with someone, and volunteers preferred working with caregivers instead of administrative support duties. Volunteers could be trained to deliver the intervention material, but information from volunteer visits was not immediately reported to hospice staff members. Future research should assess the benefits of using hospice volunteers to support clinical efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-253
Number of pages8
JournalResearch on Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Caregiver
  • Hospice
  • Pain
  • Volunteer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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