Families’ Sense of Abandonment When Patients Are Referred to Hospice

J-HOPE Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Terminally ill patients with cancer and their families may have a sense of abandonment when they are referred to hospice. This study aimed to clarify the prevalence of families’ sense of abandonment, explore the association between the sense of abandonment and the oncologists’ behaviors, and investigate the association between the sense of abandonment and the families’ depression and complicated grief. Patients and Methods: This was part of a nationwide self-reported questionnaire survey of bereaved families of patients with cancer who died in inpatient hospices. We sent questionnaires to 947 bereaved families of patients with cancer who died in 133 certified hospices between May 2012 and January 2014. Results: Among 707 responses obtained, a total of 189 (26.7%) families felt abandoned. The factors significantly associated with a greater sense of abandonment were that the oncologists said there was nothing more to do for the patient, the patient's age of less than 60 years, and being the patient's spouse. The factors significantly associated with a lower sense of abandonment were that the oncologists reassured the patients that they had received the best anticancer treatment, that the oncologists recommended hospices as one potential choice rather than mandatory, and that a palliative care team provided care. Families with a sense of abandonment had higher scores on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (p =.096) and Brief Grief Questionnaire (p <.001). Conclusion: Approximately a quarter of bereaved families had a sense of abandonment, which was associated with a higher rate of complicated grief. Oncologists may reduce the sense of abandonment by reassuring that the patients received the best anticancer treatment, recommending hospices as a potential choice rather than as mandatory, and by not saying there is nothing that can be done for the patients. Implications for Practice: This self-reported questionnaire study investigated the prevalence of families’ feelings of abandonment when they were referred to hospice care, focusing on the association of sense of abandonment and the behavior of their physicians. Nearly a quarter of families felt abandoned by the referral to hospice, and the behavior of some oncologists was associated with the sense of abandonment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-1115
Number of pages7
JournalOncologist
Volume23
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep

Keywords

  • Hospice
  • Palliative care
  • Sense of abandonment
  • Transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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