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Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2008 Oct-Nov;25(5):412-8. doi: 10.1177/1049909108318568. Epub 2008 Jul 3.

Palliative care in Japan: current status and a nationwide challenge to improve palliative care by the Cancer Control Act and the Outreach Palliative Care Trial of Integrated Regional Model (OPTIM) study.

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Japan Cancer Society, Japan Department of Adult Nursing/Palliative Care Nursing, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, and The University of Tokyo Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.


Palliative care is an essential part of integrated cancer treatment. To improve palliative care throughout Japan, a nationwide demonstration project, the Outreach Palliative Care Trial of Integrated Regional Model (OPTIM) study, is ongoing. This article reviews the current status and the problems of palliative care in Japan and introduces the OPTIM study. Although the number of palliative care services is increasing, empirical evidence shows the quality of life of cancer patients is still inadequate. The OPTIM study is an intervention trial targeting 4 areas across Japan. Primary end points are quality of care reported by patients as well as the bereaved family, number of patients who received specialized palliative care services, and place of death. The interventions are comprehensively designed to cover all areas identified by the national task force. The OPTIM study will contribute to improve patients' quality of life by proposing a regional palliative care model suitable for Japan.

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