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The Understanding of Death in Terminally Ill Cancer Patients in China: An Initial Study



Patient’s needs and rights are the key to delivering state-of-the-art modern nursing care. It is especially challenging to provide proper nursing care for patients who are reaching the end of life (EOL). In Chinese culture nursing practice, the perception and expectations of these EOL patients are not well known. This article explores the feelings and wishes of 16 terminally ill Chinese cancer patients who are going through the dying process. An open-ended questionnaire with eight items was used to interview 16 terminally ill Chinese cancer patients, and was then analyzed by a combined approach employing grounded theory and interpretive phenomenological analysis. Four dimensions were explored: first, patient’s attitudes towards death, such as accepting the fact calmly, striving to survive, and the desire for control; second, the care desired during the dying process, including avoiding excessive treatment and dying with dignity; third, the degree of the patient’s acceptance of death; and fourth, the consequences of death. This cognitive study offers a fundamental understanding of perceptions of death of terminally ill cancer patients from the Chinese culture. Their attitude toward death was complex. They did not prefer aggressive treatment and most of them had given a great deal of thought to their death.



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