Purpose: Although little improvement has been made in the survival rate among young cancer patients over recent decades, whether they have achieved a good death has never been systematically explored. We aimed to clarify whether young cancer patients (aged 20–39 years) have achieved a good death, and compare their achievement with that of middle-aged patients (aged 40–64 years). Methods: We analyzed combined data of three nationwide, cross-sectional surveys of families of cancer patients who died at inpatient hospices in Japan (2007–2014). We measured 10 core items of the Good Death Inventory (GDI) short-version on a 7-point scale, and calculated rates of “agree/absolutely agree” and the mean scores. Results: We analyzed 245 and 5140 responses of families of young and middle-aged patients, respectively. Less than 60% of families of young patients reported “agree/absolutely agree” regarding 9 items, which included “feeling that one’s life was completed” in 44 (18%; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 14–23%), “being independent in daily life” in 48 (20%; 95% CI = 15–25%), and “being free from physical distress” in 103 (42%; 95% CI = 36–48%) young patients. Young patients were significantly less likely to feel “one’s life was completed” (mean = 3.3 (standard deviation = 2.0) vs. 3.8 (1.9), respectively; effect size (ES) = 0.29; adjusted p value = 0.000) and “not being a burden to others” (3.1 (1.5) vs. 3.5 (1.6), respectively; ES = 0.24; adjusted p value = 0.010) than the middle-aged. Conclusions: Overall, young cancer patients did not achieve a good death. Future efforts are needed to improve the quality of palliative care for young patients, focusing on psychosocial/spiritual suffering.
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