Physician and nurse attitudes toward artificial hydration for terminally ill cancer patients in Japan: results of 2 nationwide surveys

Mitsunori Miyashita, Tatsuya Morita, Yasuo Shima, Rieko Kimura, Mikako Takahashi, Isamu Adachi
American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care 2007, 24 (5): 383-9
This study investigated physician and nurse attitudes toward artificial hydration in terminally ill cancer patients and compared differences in attitudes between these 2 professions and among clinical settings in Japan. The response rate was 53% (584/1,123) for physicians and 79% for nurses (3,328/4,210). More physicians answered that artificial hydration alleviates the sensation of thirst. More palliative care unit physicians and nurses answered that withholding artificial hydration alleviated several physical symptoms. Oncologists answered that artificial hydration alleviated the sensation of thirst and fatigue. Discussion among patient-centered teams and individualized decision making are important. Because the differences identified here are attributable to differences in knowledge of artificial hydration for terminal cancer patients, oncologists should place greater emphasis on the opinion of palliative care specialists. Medical practitioners caring for terminal cancer patients should consider a broader range of views on hydration therapy, with a focus on effective hydration techniques and alternative interventions.

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