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J Palliat Med. 2010 Jan;13(1):27-31. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2009.0152.

Care for the bodies of deceased cancer inpatients in Japanese palliative care units.

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Palliative Care Unit, Shakaihoken Kobe Central Hospital, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan.



The aim of this study is to clarify the actual experiences and preferences of the bereaved family for the care of their deceased family member.


At 95 palliative care units in Japan, a cross-sectional nationwide survey of the bereaved families of cancer patients was performed in 2007.


Of the 670 questionnaires sent to bereaved families, 492 were returned (response rate of 76%). The overall requirement to improve the end-of-life care was rated as follows: improvement needed (42.7%) and no improvement needed (58%). In total, 9.4% of the families reported that they experienced problems with the deceased body after leaving the hospital, including a change in the facial appearance (8.5%), stains on the body (8%), and an odor emanating from the body (4%). Regarding the preferences for treatment procedures, over half the families preferred not to have traditional procedures performed in which the deceased's hands are joined with a band, the jaws are tied with a band around the face to close the mouth, and the body is wrapped in a sheet. The most preferable treatment procedure was to have makeup applied lightly and moderately. Maintaining the appearance of the deceased body was related to the overall care evaluation of end-of-life care.


As the preferences for the care of deceased bodies are changing, end-of-life care needs to be improved with respect to culture, religious views, and the wishes of the patient and their family.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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