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Keywords:

  • cognitive acceptance;
  • end-of-life care;
  • prognosis communication;
  • self-reported peacefulness;
  • symptom burden;
  • terminal illness

Abstract

BACKGROUND.

The role of emotional acceptance of a terminal illness in end-of-life (EOL) care is not known. The authors developed a measure of peaceful acceptance at the EOL, and evaluated the role of peaceful acceptance in EOL decision-making and care.

METHODS.

The authors developed the Peace, Equanimity, and Acceptance in the Cancer Experience (PEACE) questionnaire to measure the extent to which patients with advanced cancer have a sense of peaceful acceptance of their terminal illness. The scale was administered to 160 patients with advanced cancer along with measures of other attributes that hypothetically are related to acceptance, including cognitive acceptance of terminal illness. EOL outcomes in 56 patients who died during the study also were examined.

RESULTS.

The 12-item PEACE questionnaire had 2 subscales: a 7-item Struggle With Illness subscale (Cronbach α = .81) and a 5-item Peaceful Acceptance subscale (α = .78). Both subscales were associated with patients' self-reported peacefulness (correlation coefficient [r] = 0.66 for acceptance [P <.0001]; r = −0.37 for struggle [P < .0001]). Struggle With Illness scores were associated with cognitive terminal illness acknowledgment (mean scores, 14.9 vs 12.4 for patients who were not aware that their illness was terminal; P = .001) and with some aspects of advance care planning (living will or healthcare proxy: mean scores, 13.9 vs 11.5; P = .02). In addition, among patients who had died, the use of a feeding tube at the EOL was associated inversely with Peaceful Acceptance (P = .015).

CONCLUSIONS.

The current study indicated that the PEACE questionnaire is a valid and reliable measure of peaceful acceptance and struggle with illness. Scores were associated with some choices for EOL care among patients with advanced cancer. Cancer 2008. © 2008 American Cancer Society.