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J Palliat Med. 2012 Aug;15(8):854-62. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2012.0033. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

Factors affecting the improvement of quality of dying of terminally ill patients with cancer through palliative care: a ten-year experience.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, College of Medicine and Hospital, National Taiwan University, No. 7 Chung-Shan South Road, Taipei, Taiwan. sharlenecheng@ntuh.gov.tw



Achieving a good death is the ultimate goal of palliative medicine. Yet, very few studies have investigated factors affecting improvement in quality of dying. We therefore conducted a study to evaluate these factors in terminally ill Taiwanese cancer patients treated in a multidisciplinary palliative care unit.


We included data from terminally ill patients with cancer admitted to the Hospice and Palliative Care Unit in the National Taiwan University Hospital from 2000 to 2009. Quality of dying was assessed by patients' multidisciplinary team at admission and after death using the Good Death Scale and the Audit Scale. We used multivariable regression to assess the association between patient factors, including gender, age, diagnosis, days of hospitalization, calendar year of admission, Good Death score at admission, and process of care scores for physical care, physician-assessed autonomy, emotional support, communication, continuity of life, and physician-reported rate of closure, with the quality of dying.


Multivariate regression analysis identified lower Good Death score at admission, lower age 40-65 years, longer unit length of stay (>7 days), higher physician-assessed autonomy, better physician-assessed emotional support, and better physician-reported rate of closure as positively related (all p<0.0001) with improvement in good death scores.


In this study in a Taiwanese palliative care unit; we found that late referral to the unit and low physician-assessed autonomy were key factors negatively affecting quality of dying. Earlier truth-tellling and end-of-life care discussions between physicians and patients might improve the quality of dying in this population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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