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Palliat Med. 2001 Sep;15(5):363-71.

Changes in quality of life following admission to palliative care units.

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  • 1Division of Palliative Care, Department of Oncology, McGill University, Department of Medicine, McGill University Health Centre, Canada. robin.cohen@mcgill.ca


The primary goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life (QOL) of people with a terminal illness. Previous studies of the impact of hospice/palliative care have documented improvement in physical and psychological symptoms, but not in overall QOL, due in part to the difficulties of measuring QOL. The McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire (MQOL) was developed to assess QOL in persons with advanced illness. MQOL scores were determined on admission and 7-8 days later for sequential eligible and willing patients admitted to five palliative care units. These 88 patients represented 8% of those admitted to the units during the study period. Following the final MQOL completion, patients were interviewed and asked to describe the nature of the changes in QOL they had experienced since admission. Significant improvements were found in the MQOL total score and subscale scores reflecting physical, psychological and existential well-being. In the interviews patients indicated that they had experienced changes in physical, emotional and interpersonal status, in spiritual outlook, and in their preparation for death. They also described the impact of the palliative care unit environment. This is the first study to demonstrate that hospice/palliative care can improve existential well-being in addition to psychological and physical symptoms. It provides evidence in the patients' own words that improvements in QOL go beyond symptom control following admission to a palliative care unit. However, the study results are generalizable only to those few patients admitted who are well enough to complete a questionnaire 1 week after admission.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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