No negative impact of palliative sedation on relatives’ experience of the dying phase and their wellbeing after the patient’s death: An observational study

S. M. Bruinsma, A. Van Der Heide, M. L. Van Der Lee, Y. Vergouwe, J. A. C. Rietjens, Umberto Simeoni (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Background
Palliative sedation is the widely-used intervention of administering sedating agents to induce a state of unconsciousness to take away a dying patient’s perception of otherwise irrelievable symptoms. However, it remains questionable whether this ethically complex intervention is beneficial for patients and whether the associated lack of communication in the last phase of life has a negative impact on relatives’ wellbeing.

Methods
An observational questionnaire study was conducted among relatives of a consecutive sample of patients who died a non-sudden death in the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute or in the hospice ‘Laurens Cadenza’ (both in Rotterdam) between 2010 and 2013.

Results
Relatives filled in questionnaires regarding 151 patients who had been sedated and 90 patients who had not been sedated. The median time since all patients had passed away was 21 (IQR 14–32) months. No significant differences were found in relatives´ assessments of the quality of end-of-life care, patients´ quality of life in the last week before death and their quality of dying, between patients who did and did not receive sedation, or in relatives’ satisfaction with their own life, their general health and their mental wellbeing after the patient’s death.

Conclusions
The use of sedation in these patients appears to have no negative effect on bereaved relatives’ evaluation of the patient’s dying phase, or on their own wellbeing after the patient’s death.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0149250
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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