Older adult’s attitudes to death, palliative treatment and hospice care

Catt, Susan, Blanchard, Martin, Addington-Hall, Julia, Zis, Maria, Blizard, Robert and King, Michael (2005) Older adult’s attitudes to death, palliative treatment and hospice care. Palliative Medicine, 19, (5), 402-410. (doi:10.1191/0269216305pm1037oa).


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Background: Cancer patients who receive care from specialist palliative care services in the UK are younger than those who do not receive this care. This may be explained by age-related differences in attitudes to end-of-life care.

Objective: To determine the relationship between age and i) attitudes to death and preparation for death; and ii) knowledge about, and attitudes to, cancer and palliative care.

Design: Interviews with older people, using a novel questionnaire developed using nominal groups. Main comparisons were made between people aged 55–74 with those aged 75 years and over.
Setting: General practices in London. Subjects: 129 people aged 55–74 and 127 people aged 75 years or over on the lists of general practitioners.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey to determine knowledge and experience of hospice care; preparation for end-of-life; and attitudes to end-of-life issues.

Results: Participants were knowledgeable about specialist palliative care and almost half had some indirect contact with a hospice. People aged >74 were less likely than younger participants to want their doctor to end their life in a terminal illness. Although they believed death was easier to face for older people, they did not believe that younger people deserved more consideration than older people when dying, or that they should have priority for hospice care. Education, social class, hospice knowledge and anxiety about death had little influence on overall attitudes.

Conclusions: The relative under-utilization of hospice and specialist palliative care services by older people with cancer in the UK cannot be explained by their attitudes to end-of-life issues and palliative care.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1191/0269216305pm1037oa
ISSNs: 1477-030X (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: aged, attitude to death, data collection, eighty and over, palliative care, primary health care
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
R Medicine > RT Nursing
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > Superseded (SONM) > Superseded (CPE)
ePrint ID: 17524
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2005
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:33
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/17524

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