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The primary end points of this analysis were to explore 1) the practices of prognostic disclosure for patients with cancer and their family members in Japan, 2) the person who decided on the degree of prognosis communication, and 3) family evaluations of the type of prognostic disclosure.
Semistructured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 60 bereaved family members of patients with cancer who were admitted to palliative care units in Japan.
Twenty-five percent of patients and 75% of family members were informed of the predicted survival time of the patient. Thirty-eight percent of family members answered that they themselves decided on to what degree to communicate the prognosis to patients and 83% of them chose not to disclose to patients their prognosis or incurability. In the overall evaluation of prognosis communication, 30% of the participants said that they regretted or felt doubtful about the degree of prognostic disclosure to patients, whereas 37% said that they were satisfied with the degree of prognostic disclosure and 5% said that they had made a compromise. Both in the “prognostic disclosure” group and the “no disclosure” group, there were family members who said that they regretted or felt doubtful (27% and 31%, respectively) and family members who said that they were satisfied with the degree of disclosure (27% and 44%, respectively).
Significance of results:
In conclusion, family members assume the predominant role as the decision-making source regarding prognosis disclosure to patients, and they often even prevent prognostic disclosure to patients. From the perspective of family members, any one type of disclosure is not necessarily the most acceptable choice. Future surveys should explore the reasons why family members agree or disagree with prognostic disclosures to patients and factors correlated with family evaluations.
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