Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 933–939 | Cite as

A good death from the perspective of palliative cancer patients

  • Lisa Kastbom
  • Anna Milberg
  • Marit Karlsson
Original Article



Although previous research has indicated some recurrent themes and similarities between what patients from different cultures regard as a good death, the concept is complex and there is lack of studies from the Nordic countries. The aim of this study was to explore the perception of a good death in dying cancer patients in Sweden.


Interviews were conducted with 66 adult patients with cancer in the palliative phase who were recruited from home care and hospital care. Interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis.


Participants viewed death as a process. A good death was associated with living with the prospect of imminent death, preparing for death and dying comfortably, e.g., dying quickly, with independence, with minimised suffering and with social relations intact. Some were comforted by their belief that death is predetermined. Others felt uneasy as they considered death an end to existence. Past experiences of the death of others influenced participants’ views of a good death.


Healthcare staff caring for palliative patients should consider asking them to describe what they consider a good death in order to identify goals for care. Exploring patients’ personal experience of death and dying can help address their fears as death approaches.


Palliative care Qualitative research Good death Attitude to death End-of-life care Quality of death 


Compliance with ethical standards




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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Primary Health Care and Department of Medical and Health SciencesLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Unit of Palliative Care/LAH LinköpingUniversitetssjukhuset i LinköpingLinköpingSweden
  3. 3.Department of Social and Welfare StudiesLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  4. 4.LAH Norrköping, Vrinnevi HospitalNorrköpingSweden
  5. 5.Palliative Education and Research Center in the County of ÖstergötlandLinköpingSweden
  6. 6.Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  7. 7.LAH Linköping, Linköping University HospitalLinköpingSweden

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