Good death for children with cancer: a qualitative study

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Abstract

Objective

This study aims to explore the characteristics of a good death for children with cancer.

Methods

A total of 10 pediatric cancer survivors, 10 bereaved family members and 20 medical professionals participated in in-depth interviews. Qualitative content analysis was performed on the transcribed data obtained from semi-structured interviews.

Results

Thirteen characteristics including unique and specific for children of a good death were identified: (i) sufficient opportunities to play freely, (ii) peer supporters, (iii) continued access to the patient's usual activities and relationships, (iv) assurance of privacy, (v) respect for the patient's decisions and preferences, (vi) a sense that others acknowledge and respect the patient's childhood, (vii) comfort care to minimize distressing symptoms, (viii) hope, (ix) not aware of the patient's own impending death, (x) constant dignity, (xi) strong family relationships, (xii) no sense of being a burden to family members and (xiii) good relationships with medical staffs.

Conclusions

This study identifies important characteristics of a good death for children with cancer. These findings may help medical staffs provide optimal care for children with cancer and their families, enabling them to achieve a good death.

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