Korean J Hosp Palliat Care.  2022 Mar;25(1):12-24. 10.14475/jhpc.2022.25.1.12.

Comparing Perceptions, Determinants, and Needs of Patients, Family Members, Nurses, and Physicians When Making Life-Sustaining Treatment Decisions for Patients with Hematologic Malignancies

  • 1Department of Nursing, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, Seoul, Korea


This descriptive study compared the perceptions, determinants, and needs of patients, family members, nurses, and physicians regarding life-sustaining treatment decisions for patients with hematologic malignancies in the hematology-oncology department of a tertiary hospital in Seoul, Korea.
In total, 147 subjects were recruited, gave written consent, and provided data by completing a structured questionnaire. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance, the chi-square test, and the Fisher exact test.
Nurses (F=3.35) and physicians (F=3.57) showed significantly greater familiarity with the Act on Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment than patients (F=2.69) and family members (F=2.59); (F=19.58, P<0.001). Many respondents, including 19 (51.4%) family members, 16 (43.2%) physicians, and 11 (29.7%) nurses, agreed that the patient’s opinion had the greatest effect when making life-sustaining treatment decisions. Twelve (33.3%) patients answered that mental, physical, and financial burdens were the most important factors in life-sustaining treatment decisions, and there was a significant difference among the four groups (P<0.001). Twenty-four patients (66.7%), 27 (73.0%) family members, and 21(56.8%) nurses answered that physicians were the most appropriate people to provide information regarding life-sustaining treatment decisions. Unexpectedly, 19 (51.4%) physicians answered that hospice nurse practitioners were the most appropriate people to talk to about life-sustaining treatment (P<0.001).
It is of utmost importance that the patient and physician determine when life-sustaining treatment should be withdrawn, with the patient making the ultimate decision. Doctors and nurses have the responsibility to provide detailed information. The goal of end-of-life planning is to ensure patients’ dignity and respect their values.


Perceptions; Terminal care; Life support care; Decision making; Hematologic neoplasms; Palliative care; Communication
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