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J Palliat Med. 2013 Apr;16(4):419-22. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2012.0401. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Usefulness of the leaflet-based intervention for family members of terminally ill cancer patients with delirium.

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  • 1Department of Palliative Care Team, National Kyushu Cancer Center, Fukuoka, Japan.



Delirium in terminally ill cancer patients causes considerable distress to family members. The aim was to determine the family-perceived usefulness of a leaflet about delirium in terminally ill cancer patients.


Family members received a leaflet about delirium designed for this study as a part of routine practice. Questionnaires were mailed to bereaved family members of cancer patients recruited from three palliative care units, one hospital palliative care team, and three specialized home care teams in Japan.


Among 235 family members, 16 questionnaires were returned as undeliverable, and responses were obtained from 169 bereaved family members (response rate 77%, 169/219). Of these, 22 were excluded because of missing data and 34 families reported they did not recognize that the patient had delirium, and thus 113 responses were finally analyzed. As a whole, 81% of the family members reported that the leaflet was "very useful" or "useful." Many respondents noted that the leaflet "helped them understand the dying process" (84%), "helped them identify what they could do for the patient" (80%), "helped them understand the patient's physical condition" (76%), and "was useful in preparing for the patient's death" (72%).


The leaflet about delirium was evaluated as useful for family members. This leaflet could help family members cope with a difficult situation by facilitating accurate understanding of the situation and by helping family members understand what they could do for the patient. More comprehensive intervention programs should be developed and tested in the future.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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