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Death attitudes and truth disclosure: A survey of family caregivers of elders with terminal cancer in China

Background: Although family caregivers play an important role in end-of-life care decisions, few studies have examined the communication between family caregivers and patients at the end of life. Objective: The objective was to describe family caregivers' attitudes toward death, hospice, and truth disclosure. Research design: A quantitative method was used, and a closed-ended survey of 140 family caregivers was conducted in China. The subjects included 140 primary family caregivers of elders with terminal cancer enrolled at a hospice center from April to August 2017. Participants: 140 primary family caregivers of elders with terminal cancer participated the study. Research Context: A high proportion of cancer patients continue to receive inadequate information about their illness. Family caregivers' inhibitions about disclosing information to cancer patients have not yet been the objects of research in China. Ethical considerations: This study was reported to and approved by the Regional Ethics Committee in Shenzhen, China. Findings: A questionnaire survey collected information on family caregivers' background information, emotional state, personal needs, death attitudes, and truth-disclosure opinions. The results revealed that family caregivers' death attitudes and truth-disclosure opinions played an important role in the process of caring for elders with terminal cancer. Discussion: By adopting a quantitative method, the author revealed not only the general patterns of family caregivers' attitudes toward cancer diagnosis disclosure but also the reasons for their actions and the practices of family disclosure. Conclusion: The findings suggested that ineffective communication concerning end-of-life issues resulted from family caregivers' lack of discussion and difficulty in hearing the news. Future studies should examine strategies for optimal communication between family caregivers and patients, especially with regard to breaking the bad news. Professional training in breaking bad news is important and is associated with self-reported truth-disclosure practices among family caregivers. 

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
Type of Work
Journal article
Publisher
Sage Publications
ISBN/ISSN
0969-7330
Publication Year
2019
Issue Number
7/8
Journal Titles
Nursing Ethics
Volume Number
26
Start Page
1968
End Page
1975