Background Living with incurable cancer is extremely stressful and nowadays patients live longer with the diagnosis. Nevertheless, the quality of this survival is unclear. Knowledge regarding QoL is surprisingly inconsistent.
Aim Describe patients’ perceptions of quality of life in incurable cancer at the end of life.
Methods Data was collected from two focus groups, each one with four incurably ill patients with cancer. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim into text. The meetings were carried out at a hospital. An interpretive description method was used to analyse interview results.
Results Patients described that receiving alleviation from physical symptoms was important to their QoL. Being free from pain and fatigue as well as retaining balanced rest and physical activities made them feel functional. Psychological suffering was relieved with the aid of pharmaceutical treatment for anxiety and depression. It helped them from crying, to escape despair and increased their will to live. The importance of having significant relations and networks was also discussed.
Discussion The main findings showed that patients approaching death go through a phase that is transitional by nature. Thoughts in association with this are that some incurably ill patients with cancer do not regard their QoL as being as negative as one might expect.
Conclusion The findings can be useful for healthcare professionals to implement in palliative care. With increased knowledge and understanding care can be improved by focusing on positive aspects of QoL, e.g. by encouraging patients to verbalise positive aspects in their individual lives.
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