We would like to thank the Krebsverband Baden-Württemberg e.V. and the participating cancer centers for their support of this study.
Dying in cancer centers: Do the circumstances allow for a dignified death?
Version of Record online: 8 SEP 2014
© 2014 American Cancer Society
Volume 120, Issue 20, pages 3254–3260, October 15, 2014
How to Cite
Jors, K., Adami, S., Xander, C., Meffert, C., Gaertner, J., Bardenheuer, H., Buchheidt, D., Mayer-Steinacker, R., Viehrig, M., George, W. and Becker, G. (2014), Dying in cancer centers: Do the circumstances allow for a dignified death?. Cancer, 120: 3254–3260. doi: 10.1002/cncr.28702
- Issue online: 3 OCT 2014
- Version of Record online: 8 SEP 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 25 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Received: 29 JAN 2014
- end-of-life care;
- palliative care;
- terminal care;
- quality of health care;
- specialist palliative care;
Prior research has shown that hospitals are often ill-prepared to provide care for dying patients. This study assessed whether the circumstances for dying on cancer center wards allow for a dignified death.
In this cross-sectional study, the authors surveyed physicians and nurses in 16 hospitals belonging to 10 cancer centers in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. A revised questionnaire from a previous study was used, addressing the following topics regarding end-of-life care: structural conditions (ie, rooms, staff), education/training, working environment, family/caregivers, medical treatment, communication with patients, and dignified death.
In total, 1131 surveys (response rate = 50%) were returned. Half of the participants indicated that they rarely have enough time to care for dying patients, and 55% found the rooms available for dying patients unsatisfactory. Only 19% of respondents felt that they had been well-prepared to care for the dying (physicians = 6%). Palliative care staff reported much better conditions for the dying than staff from other wards (95% of palliative care staff indicated that patients die in dignity on their ward). Generally, physicians perceived the circumstances much more positively than nurses, especially regarding communication and life-prolonging measures. Overall, 57% of respondents believed that patients could die with dignity on their ward.
Only about half of the respondents perceived that a dignified death is possible on their ward. We recommend that cancer centers invest more in staffing, adequate rooms for dying patients, training in end-of-life care, advance-care planning standards, and the early integration of specialist palliative care services. Cancer 2014;120:3254–3260. © 2014 American Cancer Society.