A systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research was conducted to identify which aspects of QOL are important from palliative care patients' perspectives.
Eight important aspects of QOL were identified following framework synthesis: cognitive, emotional, health care, personal autonomy, physical, preparatory, social, and spiritual.
Respondents reported a fear of losing cognitive capacity and the detrimental effect this would have on their QOL.
Individuals expressed how their emotional state plays an important role in their QOL. Emotions such as sadness, anxiety, despair, frustration, fear, guilt, happiness, and uncertainty were vocalized.
Aspects of health care
They included access, coordination, continuity, and quality of care. Having ready access to care when needed helped individuals feel secure.
Aspects of personal autonomy
It included facets such as having choice and control. For example, the ability to make choices concerning treatment decisions and daily activities on a palliative care unit gave participants a feeling of control and empowerment.
Individuals commented on the importance of physical health, including the ability to get around and have adequate symptom control.
They included elements such as handing tasks over to other family members, organizing funeral arrangements, saying goodbye to family and friends, and resolving outstanding personal issues.
Participants stressed how critical their relationships with others were to their QOL, including maintaining intimacy with partners, not becoming a burden to others, and avoiding creating hardship for their family and friends.
Aspects such as hope, comfort, meaning, and purpose were considered essential to participants' QOL.
Organized religion improved the QOL for some participants by providing emotional support and comfort and a sense of community. Others stated how faith and religion were paramount.
Finally, participants discussed how the environment — indoor, and outdoor — influenced their spiritual well-being and how they appreciated and needed access to nature.
The researchers conclude that a broad range of domains are important to the QOL of people with life-limiting illnesses receiving palliation.
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Adapted from McCaffrey N et al. What aspects of quality of life are important from palliative care patients’ perspectives? a systematic review of qualitative research. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2016; 52: 318-328. Intenet. Accessed on December 1, 2019.