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Exploring dimensions of social support and resilience when providing care at the end of life: a qualitative study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Barbara Hanratty



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Taylor and Francis, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Background; Research shows that formal and informal social support can facilitate resilience in carers. There is a paucity of research exploring social support and resilience amongst recently bereaved informal carers. Aim; To examine how the presence or absence of distinct dimensions of social support facilitate or hinder resilience in recently bereaved informal carers. Participants; 44 bereaved carers (20 women and 24 men) interviewed, who had been identified by GP as ‘main carer’ of someone recently deceased (3-12 months) and who died from one of a number of illnesses. Aged between 38 and 87 years old (mean= 67). Methods; Thematic analysis of interviews then used the Ecological Framework of Resilience (Windle & Bennett, 2010) as an organisational tool to develop overarching themes in the data using QSR NVivo10. We used the Sherbourne and Stewart (1991) model to identify social support that was lacking as well as social support that was present. Results; A range of social support types were identified. There was also an emphasis on the importance of relationships with both health professionals and family members, including the care recipient. However, social support was not necessary for resilience if the participant had other resources. Conclusions; Social support for carers providing end of life care is almost exclusively based around end of life care ‘work’. In comparison to other recent research suggesting friends are key in providing social support our study suggests that relationships with family and health professionals are paramount. Multidimensional support is needed for carers to enhance their resilience.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Roper L, Donnellan WJ, Hanratty B, Bennett K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Aging and Mental Health

Year: 2019

Volume: 23

Issue: 9

Pages: 1139-1145

Online publication date: 06/12/2018

Acceptance date: 12/05/2018

Date deposited: 25/05/2018

ISSN (print): 1360-7863

ISSN (electronic): 1364-6915

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2018.1484886


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