Family Functioning Predicts End-of-Life Care Quality in Patients With Cancer: Multicenter Prospective Cohort Study

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Treating patients with cancer within a family setting is the accepted standard of care and a hallmark of end-of-life (EoL) quality of care (QoC).


The aim of this study was to determine whether family caregiver functioning predicts EoL QoC received by terminally ill patients with cancer.


Family caregivers of terminally ill patients with cancer (n = 264) were enrolled from oncology inpatient and outpatient units of 12 large hospitals located in different regions throughout South Korea. Caregivers were administered self-reported questionnaires about family functioning and EoL QoC at the time of an incurable cancer diagnosis, 4 to 6 weeks later, and again 2 to 3 months later. Family functioning and QoC were measured using the family Apgar and Quality Care Questionnaire–End of Life scales, respectively.


Improved adaptability to resource sharing and attention received predicted improved family relationships for the 3 time points. Increased participation in decision making and communication predicted improved individualized care and family relationships for the 3 time points. Increased affection predicted improvements in dignity-conserving care and family relationships for the 3 time points. Improved resolution regarding sharing time and satisfaction with commitments predicted increases in all QoC domains for the 3 time points, including dignity-conserving care, care by healthcare professionals, individualized care, and family relationships.


Family functioning may contribute to improved EoL QoC of patients with terminal cancer.

Implications for Practice:

Patients' family caregivers are a valued source of affection and communicative support, improving EoL QoC. More family-oriented cancer support systems can better maintain the effectiveness of QoC until EoL.

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