Quality-of-life assessment during a palliative care programme

V. Ventafridda, F. De Conno, C. Ripamonti, A. Gamba, M. Tamburini

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By means of a cross-sectional study, 115 terminal cancer patients (53 males, 62 females) who where no longer responsive to anticancer treatment, were investigated. The sample included all patients who had been undergoing palliative care (PC) during a single week (at the out-patient clinic, in hospital or at home). From the start of PC, the quality of the patients' lives was assessed by a weekly self-descriptive record comprising 32 items at four levels of intensity. The responses given on the questionnaire during the sample week were compared to those given by the same patients at the beginning of PC (T0). From T0 to time during treatment, figures show a significant increase in the percentage of patients who reported drowsiness, and a significant decrease in pain, weakness, functional impairment and psychological distress. The global judgment of not feeling well was reduced from 49% of the patients at TO to 31% during the period of treatment (p <0.01). This result shows that, although the disease progressively develops, PC can enhance the quality of the lives of patients during the terminal stages of illness. The subjective judgment of not feeling well was much more closely correlated with physical, functional and psychological symptoms. Of the physical symptoms, pain has the closest correlation with feeling bad. However, pain has a low number of statistically significant correlations with respect to the other items, in marked contrast to the high number of correlations regarding psychological and functional items. This suggests that even though pain can be considered the physical symptom which most often affects the patients' perception of suffering, its assessment is less representative of the quality-of-life than other items relating to functional and psychological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-420
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Hematology


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