Original Article| Volume 63, ISSUE 6, P988-996, June 2022

Sufficient Death Preparedness Correlates to Better Mental Health, Quality of Life, and EOL Care



      Patients can prepare for end of life and their forthcoming death to enhance the quality of dying.


      We aimed to longitudinally evaluate the never-before-examined associations of cancer patients' death-preparedness states by conjoint cognitive prognostic awareness and emotional preparedness for death with psychological distress, quality of life (QOL), and end-of-life care received.


      In this cohort study, we simultaneously evaluated associations of four previously identified death-preparedness states (no-death-preparedness, cognitive-death-preparedness-only, emotional-death-preparedness-only, and sufficient-death-preparedness states) with anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and QOL over 383 cancer patients’ last six months and end-of-life care received in the last month using multivariate hierarchical linear modeling and logistic regression modeling, respectively. Minimal clinically important differences (MCIDs) have been established for anxiety- (1.3–1.8) and depressive- (1.5–1.7) symptom subscales (0–21 Likert scales).


      Patients in the no-death-preparedness and cognitive-death-preparedness-only states reported increases in anxiety symptoms and depressive symptoms that exceed the MCIDs, and a decline in QOL from those in the sufficient-death-preparedness state. Patients in the emotional-death-preparedness-only state were more (OR [95% CI]=2.38 [1.14, 4.97]) and less (OR [95% CI]=0.38 [0.15, 0.94]) likely to receive chemotherapy/immunotherapy and hospice care, respectively, than those in the sufficient-death-preparedness state. Death-preparedness states were not associated with life-sustaining treatments received in the last month.


      Conjoint cognitive and emotional preparedness for death is associated with cancer patients’ lower psychological distress, better QOL, reduced anti-cancer therapy, and increased hospice-care utilization. Facilitating accurate prognostic awareness and emotional preparedness for death is justified when consistent with patient circumstances and preferences.

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