End-of-life care preferences for people with advanced cancer and their families in intensive care units: a systematic review

  • Hanan M. AlyamiEmail author
  • Raymond Javan Chan
  • Karen New
Review Article



Advanced cancer patients’ end-of-life care preferences in oncology units, medical-surgical units, nursing homes and palliative care services have been established. However, less is known about end-of-life care preferences of patients with advanced cancer in intensive care units and their families.


To explore end-of-life care preferences of patients with advanced cancer and their families in intensive care units and if these align with essential elements for end-of-life care.


Electronic databases were searched up to February 2018. Reference lists of retrieved articles were screened for potential studies.


A total of 112 full text articles were retrieved. Of these, 12 articles reporting outcomes from 10 studies were eligible for inclusion. The majority were retrospective chart reviews (n = 7) and conducted in developed countries (n = 9). Care preferences change over time with deteriorating physical condition. Ongoing patient-centred communication and shared decision-making are critical as is teamwork and involvement of a palliative care team. Marital status, gender and ethnicity appear to influence care preferences. Of those studies examining patient preferences and/or the receiving of their preferences, these could be aligned with approximately half of the Australian essential elements for end-of-life care.


Providing end-of-life care for patients with advanced cancer in intensive care units is challenging. No studies have investigated prospectively the end-of-life care preferences of patients and their families in this acute setting. Further research is required to determine the elements of care preferences for patients with advanced cancer and their families in intensive care units in developing countries.


End-of-life care Terminal care Advanced cancer Intensive care unit 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

The author(s) also declare that they have full control of all primary data and that they agree to allow the journal to review their data if requested.

Supplementary material

520_2019_4844_MOESM1_ESM.docx (48 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 47 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, Chamberlain Building St. Lucia CampusUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.College of NursingPrincess Nourah bint Abdulrahman UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.School of NursingQueensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia
  4. 4.Division of Cancer ServicesPrincess Alexandra HospitalWoolloongabbaAustralia
  5. 5.School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social WorkThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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