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The importance of place of death in young adults with terminal cancer.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date05/2004
JournalMortality
Journal number2
Volume9
Number of pages18
Pages114-131
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper addresses issues relating to place of death in young adults with terminal cancer, through the perspectives of their parents. Evidence suggests that the majority of terminally ill cancer patients would prefer the option of a home death, but little is known about preferences among young adult cancer patients and their families. Through retrospective reflection by bereaved parents of young adults with cancer, this paper aims to understand the importance of place of death to this age group. The empirical data drawn on in this paper consist of accounts written by the parents of 13 young adults who died of cancer. A death at home is reported as a strongly held preference of the majority of young adults, and was supported by their parents. Eight of the 13 young adults were able to die at home, another wished to do so but died in a hospice. However, narratives describing death in places other than home signal that home may not always be the preferred or 'best' place to die. Life-stage factors do appear to play a role in determining both preference for, and the actual achievement of, a death at home, but if life stage issues are understood and respected a 'good' death can take place in other environments.