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Information provision to older patients receiving palliative chemotherapy: a quality study
  1. Christina Louise Lindhardt1,2,
  2. Stine Brændegaard Winther3,
  3. Per Pfeiffer2,3 and
  4. Jesper Ryg2,4
  1. 1Research Department of Patient Communication, Clinical Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  2. 2Academy of Geriatric Cancer Research (AgeCare), Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark
  3. 3Department of Oncology, Odense University Hospital, Clinical Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  4. 4Department of Geriatric Medicine, Odense University Hospital, Clinical Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christina Louise Lindhardt, Research Department of Patient Communication, Clinical Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; clindhardt{at}health.sdu.dk

Abstract

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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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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Footnotes

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was first published. One missing sentence has been added to the methods section.

  • Contributors CLL was the PI and guarantor of this project and wrote the protocol, conducted all the interviews, analysed and was the PI throughout the research project and the article submission. SBW was cowriting the protocol, planning process, initiating the contact to the participants, coparticipated in the analysis as well as in the writing process of this article. PP was cowriting on the protocol, planning process, analysing the data and part of the writing process. JR was cowriting the protocol, Planning process, analysing the data and part of the writing process.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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