BACKGROUND: Well detection of the symptoms and signs of dying patients is essential for providing proper palliative care. Our goal is to evaluate the predominant symptoms and compare the changes in dying patients with digestive tract cancer in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
METHODS: A total of 1057 cancer patients aged 18 years or older admitted in palliative care units with locally advanced or metastatic gastroesophageal, colorectal, and pancreaticobiliary cancer were enrolled from January 2017 to March 2019. The severity of physical and psychological symptoms and signs assessed by physicians and/or nurses upon admission, 1 week after admission, and within 3 days of death, was compared according to cancer type and country of origin.
RESULTS: Among the 338 gastroesophageal, 358 pancreaticobiliary, and 361 colorectal cancer patients, 894 (93.1%) died during the observation period. Fatigue was the most severe symptom in all cancer groups before dying. Dyspnea, fatigue, drowsiness, and ascites improved after hospitalization albeit they worsened prior to death. In particular, ascites was a marked symptom in patients with pancreaticobiliary cancer. Delirium and hallucination gradually worsened during the period leading to death. Differences in manifestations with respect to the country of origin were not significant.
CONCLUSION: We identified the most prevalent signs and symptoms in patients from East Asia who were dying from digestive tract cancers. Proper management, based on these prevalent signs and symptoms during the dying period, plays a vital role in providing adequate palliative care.
Palliative care and advance care planning (ACP) from the first diagnosis of glioblastoma are important. This questionnaire survey was conducted to understand the current status of palliative care for brain tumors in Japan. Representative characteristics of Japan in comparison with Western countries (P <0.01) are described below: (1) Gender ratio of male in physicians who treat brain tumors in Europe and the United States/Canada are about 70%, but 94% in Japan. (2) The specialty is predominantly neurosurgeon (93%) in Japan. The ratio of neurologists is predominantly 40% in Europe. In the United States/Canada, neurologist (27%) and neurosurgeon (29%) are main parts. (3) Years of medical experience over 15 in physicians is 73% in Japan. Proportions of those with over 15 years are 45% in Europe and 30% in the United States/Canada. (4) In practicing setting, the rate of academic medical centers is about 80% in Europe and the United States/Canada, and ~60% in Japan. Representative differences compared with past domestic data (2007) (p<0.01): (1) In glioblastoma, the rate of explaining about median survival time increases from 39% (2007) to 80% (2018). Explanation about medical conditions to the patient himself with his family increases from 20% (2007) to 39% (2018). (2) Place of death: The rate at hospital is decreasing from 96% (2007) to 79% (2018) and at home is increasing from 3% (2007) to 10% (2018) (3) The rate of ventilator in adult has decreased from 74% (2007) to 54% (2018), but nasal tube feeding has remained unchanged from 62% (2007) to 60% (2018). These results will be shared with physicians to make better care systems for patients with brain tumors.
Objectives: To analyze the association of an incentivization program to promote death outside of hospitals with changes in place of death.
Design: A longitudinal observational study using national databases.
Setting and Participants: Participants comprised Japanese decedents (=65 years) who had used long-term care insurance services and died between April 2007 and March 2014.
Methods: Using a database of Japanese long-term care insurance service claims, subjects were divided into community-dwelling and residential aged care (RAC) facility groups. Based on national death records, change in place of death after the Japanese government initiated incentivization program was observed using logistic regression.
Results: Hospital deaths decreased by 8.7% over time, mainly due to an increase in RAC facility deaths. The incentivization program was more associated with decreased in-hospital deaths for older adults in RAC facilities than community-dwelling older adults.
Conclusions and Implications: In Japan, the proportion of in-hospital deaths of frail older adults decreased since the health services system introduced the incentivization program for end-of-life care outside of hospitals. The shift of place of death from hospitals to different locations was more prominent among residents of RAC facilities, where informal care from laymen was required less, than among community residents.
BACKGROUND: The low completion rate of advance directives (ADs) has received attention in Japan and the United States, as policy makers and health care professionals face aging populations with multiple comorbidities. Among the barriers to AD planning, cultural values and attitudes appear to be particularly influential. A comparison of culturally distinct societies provides a deeper understanding of these barriers. Through such an approach, this study identifies strategies for increasing AD planning among late-middle-age Japanese and US individuals.
METHODS: After giving informed consent for the Institutional Review Board-approved study, Japanese and US respondents (45-65 y; 50% female) without ADs completed a language-appropriate online survey. Participants were asked to review a decision aid as part of a scenario-based physician consultation regarding artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH). Hypotheses were analyzed using multigroup structural equation modeling.
RESULTS: Important similarities were identified across the 2 groups. After reviewing the decision aid, both samples strongly preferred "no ANH." Respondents who strongly valued either self-reliance or interpersonal relationships experienced greater preparedness for AD planning. In both countries, greater decision preparedness and positive death attitude predicted greater confidence to discuss care options with a provider. Finally, cultural values predicted preference for family participation: respondents with a strong interdependent self-concept desired more family involvement, whereas high independents preferred less.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate the importance of documenting care preferences and accounting for individual differences. To increase AD adoption, providers should identify patient segments likely to benefit most from the interventions. Targeting individuals in both countries who value self-reliance and interpersonal relationships appears to be a good place to begin. Such individuals can be identified clinically through administration of validated measures used in this study.
Primary palliative care is essential for the continuity of care in severe COPD. This study aimed to identify essential factors and aspects to enhance the quality of primary palliative care for adults with severe COPD living in the community. Interviews with medical professionals from six institutions located in two major metropolitan areas in Japan were conducted, and these interviews were analyzed by using a qualitative content analysis approach. Results indicate that effective collaborative communication among team members, long-term care insurance system and related services, and palliative care techniques were the primary themes.
Strategies to increase appropriateness of EoL care, such as shared decision making (SDM), and advance care planning (ACP) are internationally embraced, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, individuals preferences regarding EoL care may differ internationally. Current literature lacks insight in how preferences in EoL care differ between countries and continents. This study's aim is to compare Dutch and Japanese general publics attitudes and preferences toward EoL care, and EoL decisions.
Methods: a cross-sectional survey design was chosen. The survey was held among samples of the Dutch and Japanese general public, using a Nationwide social research panel of 220.000 registrants in the Netherlands and 1.200.000 in Japan. A quota sampling was done (age, gender, and living area). N = 1.040 in each country.
More Japanese than Dutch citizens tend to avoid thinking in advance about future situations of dependence (26.0% vs 9.4%; P = .000); say they would feel themselves a burden for relatives if they would become dependent in their last phase of life (79.3% vs 47.8%; P = .000); and choose the hospital as their preferred place of death (19.4% vs 3.6% P = .000). More Dutch than Japanese people say they would be happy with a proactive approach of their doctor regarding EoL issues (78.0% vs 65.1% JPN; P = .000).
Preferences in EoL care substantially differ between the Netherlands and Japan. These differences should be taken into account a) when interpreting geographical variation in EoL care, and b) if strategies such as SDM or ACP – are considered. Such strategies will fail if an international “one size fits all” approach would be followed.
OBJECTIVES: The importance of supporting advance care planning (ACP) by healthcare professionals is recognized worldwide, and assessing the outcomes, such as people's understanding and readiness for ACP, using an appropriate instrument is essential. We, therefore, developed a Japanese version of the Advance Care Planning Engagement Survey (ACP Engagement Survey; 15 items, 9 items, and 4 items), an international scale for assessing the progress of the ACP, and examined its validity and reliability.
METHODS: The ACP Engagement Survey was translated into Japanese, back-translated, and culturally adapted, and the final version was reviewed by the author of the original version. Data on basic demographic information and ACP-related experiences were simultaneously collected as external criteria in an online survey of older adults with chronic diseases. The Cronbach's alpha was calculated to assess its internal consistency, and a retest was performed three days later to calculate the intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs).
RESULTS: A total of 200 respondents (mean age 70; 9.5% female) were included in the analysis. None of the items showed a ceiling effect, but several items did exhibit a floor effect. The factor structure was the same 2-factor structure as the original version, and both factors exhibited a high cumulative contribution rate. The Cronbach's alphas were 0.94 (15-item version), 0.91 (9-item version), and 0.95 (4-item version), and ICCs were of 0.88 (15-item version), 0.9 (9-item version), and 0.84 (4-item version).
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: The Japanese version of the ACP Engagement Survey was confirmed to have very good reliability regarding both internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Together with the result of the item analysis, we can conclude that the Japanese version of the ACP Engagement Survey is sufficiently reliable to be utilized in interventional studies, and it has acceptable content validity, construct validity, and criterion-related validity.
Context: The development of palliative care services is a public health priority. The Japanese Cancer Control Act has been promoting palliative care services nationwide for over 10 years.
Objectives: To evaluate long-term changes in the structure and processes of hospital palliative cancer care services nationwide.
Methods: This was an observational study using three representative questionnaire surveys between 2008 and 2018. The questionnaire consisted of domains on the structure and process regarding hospital palliative cancer care services. The changes over time were assessed using the MacNemar test. The differences between groups, namely community hospitals and designated cancer hospitals, were determined using 2 tests.
Results: We analyzed changes over time from 281 designated cancer hospitals and compared the services between 1395 community hospitals and 380 designated cancer hospitals. The development of the structure and processes for designated cancer hospital's palliative cancer care services was greater for 10 years including the number of Palliative Care Consultation Teams (PCTs) with more than 50 patient referrals annually (from 2010 to 2018: 76.2% to 85.4%, P < 0.001). The palliative cancer care services of community hospitals were poorly prepared compared with designated cancer hospitals in 2018, such as the “direct medical care by any member of the Palliative Care Consultation Team at least 3 times a week (41.7% vs. 81.3%; P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Hospital palliative cancer care services in designated cancer hospitals have developed significantly from 2008 to 2018. Building a system to promote palliative care services in community hospitals is a challenge for the next decade.
PURPOSE: Cancer patients in university hospitals often face a difficult decision regarding transfer to other care settings at the end-of-life. Arrangements for a satisfying transfer are important for reducing the psychosocial impact of the transition, but few studies have evaluated this aspect. This study aimed to identify factors related to the satisfying arrangement of transfers to other care settings from university hospitals.
METHODS: A total of 400 bereaved family members of cancer patients in Japan participated in this cross-sectional web-based questionnaire survey. Statistical methods including decision tree analysis were conducted to identify factors significantly associated with satisfying transfer arrangements.
RESULTS: More than 60% of cancer patients were satisfied with the transfer arrangements made by university hospitals. Decision tree analysis revealed that the factor most significantly associated with satisfaction with transfer arrangements was "satisfaction with contents of the explanation about transfer." The following significant factors were also extracted: "timing of being informed of transfer," "presence of primary care physician," and "presence of trustworthy staff." "Satisfaction with overall care from university hospital staff" and "involvement of palliative care team" were identified as factors contributing to a high degree of satisfaction with transfer arrangements.
CONCLUSION: In order to make satisfying transfer arrangements from university hospitals for cancer patients at the end-of-life, healthcare professionals should provide satisfactory explanations about the transfer process in order to meet the information needs of patients. To be effective, healthcare professionals should initiate transfer arrangements prior to cancer treatment, while simultaneously building trusting relationships with patients.
BACKGROUND: Regulations on forgoing life-sustaining treatment (LST) have developed in Asian countries including Japan, Korea and Taiwan. However, other countries are relatively unaware of these due to the language barrier. This article aims to describe and compare the relevant regulatory frameworks, using the (more familiar) situation in England as a point of reference. We undertook literature reviews to ascertain the legal and regulatory positions on forgoing LST in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and England.
MAIN TEXT: Findings from a literature review are first presented to describe the development of the regulatory frameworks surrounding the option of forgoing LST in each country. Based on the findings from the four countries, we suggest five ethically important points, reflection on which should help to inform the further development of regulatory frameworks concerning end-of-life care in these countries and beyond. There should be reflection on: (1) the definition of - and reasons for defining - the 'terminal stage' and associated criteria for making such judgements; Korea and Taiwan limit forgoing LST to patients in this stage, but there are risks associated with defining this too narrowly or broadly; (2) foregoing LST for patients who are not in this stage, as is allowed in Japan and England, because here too there are areas of controversy, including (in England) whether the law in this area does enough to respect the autonomy of (now) incapacitated patients; (3) whether 'foregoing' LST should encompass withholding and withdrawing treatment; this is also an ethically disputed area, particularly in the Asian countries we examine; (4) the family's role in end-of-life decision-making, particularly as, compared with England, the three Asian countries traditionally place a greater emphasis on families and communities than on individuals; and (5) decision-making with and for those incapacitated patients who lack families, surrogate decision-makers or ADs.
CONCLUSION: Comparison of, and reflection on, the different legal positions that obtain in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and England should prove informative and we particularly invite reflection on five areas, in the hope the ensuing discussions will help to establish better end-of-life regulatory frameworks in these countries and elsewhere.
BACKGROUND: Although rehabilitation is recommended for terminal cancer patients, the specific components and methods of such programs are poorly documented. No studies to date have examined the effectiveness of rehabilitation for terminal cancer patients. This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of a new intervention for rehabilitation therapists, using the Op-reha Guide (Guide to Optimal and Patient-Centred Rehabilitation Practice for Patients in Palliative Care Units [PCUs]) in rehabilitation practice. This guide consists of recommended actions and attitudes for rehabilitation therapists and aims to optimise therapists' actions according to the patient's needs and condition. It shares goals with terminal cancer patients to maintain their activities of daily living (ADL).
METHODS: This study uses a multicentre, prospective, randomised controlled trial (RCT) design with two parallel groups in PCUs where specialised rehabilitation will be routinely performed for terminal cancer patients by rehabilitation therapists. Participants will be randomised (1:1) to intervention (the Op-reha Guide) and control groups (usual rehabilitation). We will then conduct an observational study in PCUs that do not perform specialised rehabilitation for terminal cancer patients; this will be considered the usual care group, and the efficacy of usual rehabilitation will be quantitatively evaluated. Inclusion criteria are hospitalisation in PCU, European Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status of 2 or 3, and clinical estimation of life expectancy of 3 }weeks or more. Patients with severe symptom burden will be excluded. We hypothesise that the Op-reha Guide will be more effective in maintaining the ADL of terminal cancer patients hospitalised in PCUs than usual rehabilitation. The primary endpoint is defined as the change in (total) modified Barthel Index from baseline to Day 22. Quality of life will be a secondary endpoint. In total, 135 patients will be recruited from 16 Japanese sites between July 2019 and December 2021.
DISCUSSION: This will be the first trial to evaluate the efficacy of specialised rehabilitation for terminal cancer patients hospitalised in PCUs, and will contribute to the evidence on the efficacy of implementing rehabilitation for terminal cancer patients.
Background: Tumor fever and infection are common febrile etiologies among advanced cancer patients. To date, only few studies have been conducted to differentiate between tumor fever and infections.
Objective: This study aimed to identify discriminating factors that provide rapid results and are feasible and minimally invasive for discriminating between tumor fever and infection in advanced cancer patients.
Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study. Advanced cancer patients with clinically diagnosed tumor fever or infection, who received medical treatment from palliative care specialists in 10 nationwide Japanese hospitals, were consecutively identified during August 2012 and November 2014. The symptoms, physical findings, blood test results at baseline and during fever, imaging findings, and sociodemographic factors of these patients were retrospectively extracted.
Results: Thirty-three patients with tumor fever and 72 patients with infection were identified. Their mean age was 68.8 years, 68 (64.8%) were men, and the median palliative performance status (PPS) was 50. Statistically significant factors predicting tumor fever by logistic regression analysis were as follows: deterioration of PPS (odds ratio, 0.078), shaking chills during fever (0.067), and change from baseline data of neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio of =5 (0.14).
Conclusions: Shaking chills during fever, and changes from baseline of performance status and white blood cell differentiation can be useful to differentiate between tumor fever and infection among advanced cancer patients. Further confirmatory studies are needed.
Purpose: Palliative care is constructed by various kinds of professionals. This study aimed to identify the challenges that dental hygienists (DHs) encountered when working with other professionals in a multidisciplinary team approach in palliative care for advanced cancer patients.
Methods: We conducted the following two studies: (1) a questionnaire-based survey for DHs who belong to Japanese Society for Oral Care (JSOC) on oral care in palliative care settings (n = 1,290), and (2) surveys on education for DHs in universities. Items in this study included the following: 1) a cross-sectional analysis of the curriculum on palliative care at 10 universities and 2) a questionnaire-based survey on palliative care education at 1 of the 10 universities (n = 75).
Results: (1) Seventy-three percent had experience in oral care in palliative care settings. The number of DHs with =20 years’ experience was significantly higher than those with <10 years’ experience (76% vs 66%, p = 0.042). Further, 92% received no formal palliative care education, and 94% perceived a lack of knowledge on palliative care. These data did not differ based on the years of experience. (2) (a) There was no specific curriculum on the subject of palliative care in 10 universities. Lectures on palliative care were provided at 3 universities. (b) Fifty-five percent of students attended lectures on palliative care. However, 88% of them experienced anxiety, and 78% perceived few classes on palliative care.
Conclusions: For DHs, to positively contribute to multidisciplinary palliative care team approach, it is important to establish pregraduate and postgraduate education systems.
The Japan Geriatrics Society has so far announced "The Japan Geriatrics Society Position Statement 2012" and "Guidelines for the Decision-Making Processes in Medical and Long-Term Care for the Elderly - Focusing on the Use of Artificial Hydration and Nutrition" related to end-of-life care for older adults. In 2018, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare revised the "Guidelines for the Decision-Making Processes in Medical and Long-Term Care in the End of Life," recommending the practice of advance care planning (ACP). This was the first time when the Japanese government publicized its stance on ACP. Immediately after the government's announcement, the Japan Medical Association announced its committee report, "The Super-aged Society and the End-of-life Care," which also recommended the practice of ACP. The guidelines were published when the society was experiencing substantial changes related to geriatric care in Japan, and required timely and ethically appropriate decision-making processes. However, because ACP is a concept imported from English-speaking countries, some Japanese people could find it difficult to understand the role and methodology of ACP because of differences in culture and the medical/long-term care system. Therefore, the Japan Geriatrics Society has decided to publish the "Recommendations for the Promotion of Advance Care Planning" for medical and long-term care professionals nationwide with the aim of using the recommendations on a daily basis. The society recognizes ACP as indispensable to improve end-of-life care for individuals, particularly for older adults. We anticipate that the recommendations will provide practical guidance for those strenuously working toward this goal.
This study aimed to investigate actual situations of nursing activities in supporting the transition to homecare settings for end-stage cancer patients and to determine factors related to executing such nursing activities from the perspectives of communication skills and interprofessional collaboration. A cross-sectional study was conducted with 513 nurses who worked at designated cancer care hospitals in Japan. A total of 318 valid responses were obtained (valid response rate: 62.0%). Scores for nursing activities were higher for the following items: sharing information regarding the transition to homecare settings, intentionally engaging with patients after their medical conditions were explained, providing care for families, and understanding a patient's will about the transition to homecare settings. On the other hand, scores were lower for items that were related to guiding juniors and self-improvement. A multiple regression analysis was performed with nursing activities as the dependent variable. 8 factors related to nursing activities were determined: experience in supporting the transition to homecare settings as a primary nurse, contribution to a team (Team Approach Assessment Scale [TAAS]), years of nursing experience, function of a team (TAAS), regulation of interpersonal relationship (ENDCOREs communication skills scale), experience of participation in homecare nursing education or seminars, verbal communication skills for good communication (End-of-life Care Nurses’ Communication Skills scale), and educational background. Future challenges include developing an educational program based on the results of the present study and promoting educational intervention studies.
Background: Neuroleptics are commonly used in palliative care settings. However, adverse events of neuroleptics, known as extrapyramidal symptoms (EPSs), might be overlooked in clinical practice. We conducted this study to explore the prevalence of EPSs in palliative care setting.
Methods: This multicenter, prospective, observational study included patients who 1) were referred to either a specialist palliative care team or a palliative care unit, 2) had a diagnosis of cancer, and 3) were =20 years of age. We investigated the prevalence of EPSs and medications used. The primary outcome was the overall Drug-Induced Extrapyramidal Symptom Scale (DIEPSS) score.
Results: Between November 2015 and October 2016, 149 patients from 5 centers in Japan were enrolled. The median age was 67 years (range: 21–88 years) and the study population included 81 men (54.4%). The cancer types included lung (55 patients, 36.9%), upper gastrointestinal tract (5, 3.3%), hepatobiliary (19, 12.8%); breast (12, 8.1%); head and neck (10, 6.7%), gynecologic (10, 6.7%), genitourinary (10, 6.7%), and others (28, 18.8%). The median Karnofsky performance status was 60 (20–100). Most patients (86.6%) did not experience delirium. Thirty-nine (26.2%) patients received one or more EPS-inducing medications. EPSs occurred in 4 (2.7%) patients with a cutoff score of 5 points for 5 parkinsonism items in DIEPSS.
Conclusion: A lower frequency (<3%) of patients than expected in this population had EPSs. Therefore, we concluded that an interventional study is not feasible. However, medications that cause EPSs are often used in palliative care; therefore, a longitudinal study is warranted.
In Japan, many adults prefer to die at home; however, few have their preferences actually come true. While discussions regarding place of death preferences (DPDPs) are important for older adults, they are poorly documented. Therefore, we investigated the factors associated with older Japanese men and women having DPDPs. We used cross-sectional survey data collected for the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES). We applied multivariable logistic regression analysis to calculate the odds ratio (ORs) of having DPDPs separately between men (n = 2,770) and women (n = 3,038) aged = 75 years. We considered 17 potential factors associated with having DPDPs, which were classified as either demographic, healthcare, family, or community factors. Among participants, 50.1% had DPDPs: 1,288 men (44.3%) and 1,619 women (55.7%). Older adults, DPDPs were associated with 5 additional factors; e.g. having a primary care physician (ORs = 1.47 [men] and 1.45 [women]), as were those who gave family and friends advice (ORs = 1.26 [men] and 1.62 [women]), and having people who listened to their concerns (ORs = 1.70 [men] and 1.81 [women]). Among men, DPDPs were associated with 3 additional factors; e.g. humorous conversations with their spouse (OR = 1.60). Among women, only one factor—reading newspapers (OR = 1.43) was associated with having DPDPs. Social networks with primary care physicians, family members, and friends may be important factors in promoting DPDPs. These gender-based differences in older adults relating to DPDPs should be considered when developing interventions to promote advance care planning that includes DPDPs.
In nursing homes, discussions between family members and staff regarding the end of life for residents with cognitive impairment are crucial to the choice of treatment and care consistent with residents' wishes. However, family members experience burden in such discussions, and communication with staff remains inadequate. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to elucidate the meaning of continuous end-of-life discussion for family members. Data were collected using semistructured individual interviews. Thirteen family members of residents from 3 nursing homes in Kyoto, Japan, participated in the study. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis, which focused on both explicit and implicit meanings. Four themes emerged regarding the experience of end-of-life discussion: “the end of life soaking in,” “hardship of making the decision to end my family member's life,” “wavering thoughts about decisions made and actions taken,” and “feeling a sense of participation about the care.” Family members had come to accept the deaths of residents through continuous discussion and experienced strong conflict in facing the death of their family members. Moreover, staff members should understand family members' beliefs and the burden they experience in facing residents' death.
OBJECTIVES: Family conflict and family functioning were regarded as changeable factors associated with complicated grief (CG) and major depressive disorder (MDD) in the bereaved families of patients with advanced cancer, although the evidence is limited. We explored the family functioning associated with CG and MDD developing either independently or co-morbidly in the bereaved families of patients with advanced cancer who died in palliative care units (PCUs).
METHODS: This study comprised a nationwide cross-sectional questionnaire survey of bereaved family members of cancer patients who died in Japanese PCUs participating in evaluation of the quality of end-of-life care.
RESULTS: A total of 529 questionnaires (69.2%) were returned, and we analyzed a total of 458 responses. A total of 14.2% of participants were considered as having CG, 22.5% as having moderate to severe depression, and 9.6% as having co-morbid symptoms. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that many family members insulted or yelled at one another (odd ratio (OR): 2.99, p=0.046; OR:2.57, p=0.033), and conflict regarding what is meant by a good death (OR:3.60, p=0.026; OR:4.06, p=0.004) was significantly positively associated with CG, MDD, and co-morbid symptom.
CONCLUSIONS: Specific family conflicts may increase the incidence of CG, MDD, and co-morbid symptoms in the bereaved families of patients with advanced cancer. Our results may encourage health care providers to approach discussions about end-of-life issue with the patient and their family in advance, especially focusing on what is considered a good death for the patient, which may prevent or resolve the family conflict.
CONTEXT: Evaluation of end-of-life care is a key element in quality improvement, and population-based mortality follow-back designs have been used in several countries. This design was adapted to evaluate a Good Death in Japan.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explain the scientific background and rationale for assessing the feasibility of a mortality follow-back survey using a randomized design.
DESIGN: We utilized a cross-sectional, questionnaire survey to assess feasibility using response rate, sample representativeness, effect on response rate with two methods, and survey acceptability.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: The subjects were 4,812 bereaved family members of patients who died from the major five causes of death: cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, pneumonia, or kidney failure, using mortality data.
RESULTS: Overall, 682 (14.2%) questionnaires could not be delivered, and 2,294 (55.5%) family members agreed to participate in the survey. There was little difference in the distribution of characteristics between the study subjects and the full population, and sample representativeness was acceptable. Sending the questionnaire with a pen achieved a higher response rate than without (weighted: 48.2% vs. 40.8%; p<0.001). In follow-up contact, there was no difference in response rate between resending the questionnaire and a reminder letter alone (weighted: 32.9% vs. 32.4%; p=0.803). In total, 84.8% (weighted) of the participants agreed with improving quality of care through this kind of survey.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated the feasibility of conducting a population-based mortality follow-back survey using a randomized design. An attached pen with the questionnaire was effective in improving the response rate.