Priorities of a “good death” according to cancer patients, their family caregivers, physicians, and the general population: a nationwide survey
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Understanding the concept of a “good death” is crucial to end-of-life care, but our current understanding of what constitutes a good death is insufficient. Here, we investigated the components of a good death that are important to the general population, cancer patients, their families, and physicians.
We conducted a stratified nationwide cross-sectional survey of cancer patients and their families from 12 hospitals, physicians from 12 hospitals and the Korean Medical Association, and the general population, investigating their attitudes toward 10 good-death components.
Three components—“not be a burden to the family,” “presence of family,” and “resolve unfinished business”—were considered the most important components by more than 2/3 of each of the three groups, and an additional three components—“freedom from pain,” “feel that life was meaningful,” and “at peace with God”—were considered important by all but the physicians group. Physicians considered “feel life was meaningful,” “presence of family,” and “not be a burden to family” as the core components of a good death, with “freedom from pain” as an additional component. “Treatment choices’ followed, “finances in order,” “mentally aware,” and “die at home” were found to be the least important components among all four groups.
While families strongly agreed that “presence of family” and “not be a burden to family” were important to a good death, the importance of other factors differed between the groups. Health care providers should attempt to discern each patient’s view of a good death.
KeywordsGood death Attitudes toward death End-of-life Cancer
This research was supported by a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number: HC15C1391) and Seokchun Daewoong Foundation (grant number: 80020160249). The funding agreement ensured the authors’ independence in designing the study, interpreting the data, writing, and publishing the report.
Compliance with ethical standards
All procedures in this study were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or with comparable ethical standards. All participants provided written informed consent except for the general population, and the study was approved by the institutional review board of each hospital (IRB number: E-1612-102-815).
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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