International comparison study on the primary concerns of terminally ill cancer patients in short-term life review interviews among Japanese, Koreans, and Americans

Michiyo Ando, Tatsuya Morita, Sung-Hee Ahn, Felicia Marquez-Wong, Saburo Ide
Palliative & Supportive Care 2009, 7 (3): 349-55

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the primary concerns of terminally ill cancer patients in a Short-Term Life Review among Japanese, Koreans, and Americans to develop intervention programs to be tailored to patients in other countries.

METHOD: Twenty Japanese, 16 Korean, and 7 American terminally ill cancer patients who were in the hospice wards of general Christian hospitals in each country participated in this study. Medical staff members (nurses, social workers, clinical psychologists) performed Short-Term Life Review Interviews with each patient. Patients reviewed their lives in the first session, the interviewers made simple albums for each patient in the week following the first session, and patients and interviewers then confirmed the contents of the album. The treatment period was 1 week. Measurement instruments included the Functional Assessment Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual (FACIT-Sp) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). The contents of each interview session were transcribed, and correspondence analysis and a significance test were conducted on these data to select characteristic words or phrases.

RESULTS: Using the FACIT-Sp scores, the following concerns were chosen, in descending order of frequency. In Japan, primary concerns consisted of such ideas as "good human relationships and transcendence," "achievements and satisfaction," "good memories and important things," and "bitter memories." In Korea, "religious life," "right behavior for living," "strong consideration for children and will," and "life for living" were primary concerns. In the United States, "love, pride, will to children," "good, sweet memories," and "regret and a feeling of loss" were primary concerns.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: We clarify the differences among the primary concerns from the Short-Term Life Reviews, arguing that we can improve the spiritual well-being of terminally ill cancer patients by focusing on the primary concerns within each country.

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