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Information provision to older patients receiving palliative chemotherapy: a quality study


Objectives Cancer treatment has become increasingly successful. However, prolonging and preserving life has become an important goal of therapy since many patients generally receive palliative chemotherapy. The perception of life changes when patients are informed, that no curative treatment is possible. This raises new dilemmas for patients with incurable cancer, but only sparse information is available about the thoughts of these patients.

The aim of this study was to explore how older patients experience the information on absence of curative treatment options.

Methods Qualitative interviews were performed in eleven older patients with incurable upper gastrointestinal cancer receiving first-line palliative chemotherapy. Median age was 74 (65–76) years. We used a qualitative approach to collect data through semistructured individual interviews conducted at the hospital or by telephone interviews by an experienced researcher. The thematic analysis was conveyed by Braun and Clarke.

Results The interview findings were grouped around three main themes: hope of being cured, hearing but not comprehending, and desired milestones to reach. Further, it was determined that patients hid their feelings and avoided talking about the disease with the health professionals due to fear of being told the truth.

Conclusions Receiving information about their incurable cancer was an ongoing dilemma for the patients. Following the message, patients shared thoughts about reaching important milestones in life, spending time with their family or hope for a cure to be found.

  • cancer
  • communication
  • end of life care
  • quality of life
  • terminal care
  • supportive care

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. The data are stored in a secure and safe location according to the current data and safety regulations for Odense University Hospital and University of Southern Denmark.

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