Researching "good death" in a Hong Kong palliative care program: A clinical data-mining study

Wallace C.H. Chan*, I. Epstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This study operationalizes and assesses the percentage of "good deaths" achieved among Chinese cancer patients in a palliative care program, the profile of these patients, the relationship between patients with a good death and psychosocial factors, and the differences in background factors, and physical and psychosocial conditions between patients who experienced a good death and those who did not. Clinical data mining was the research method used. Records of deceased cancer patients between 2003 and 2005 in a palliative care unit were the sole data source. Good death was operationally defined as the patient's record indicating no pain (physical) or anxiety (psychological), and having open and honest communication with family (social) in the final assessment by the Support Team Assessment Schedule (STAS) just before death. Using these criteria, about one-fifth of patients (21.5%; 137 out of 638) experienced a good death. Those with a good death were significantly older and were in palliative care longer. Their records also indicated lower levels of constipation, insomnia, oral discomfort, and family anxiety at their first and at their final STAS assessments. Good death was positively associated with recorded indicators of fullness in life, caregivers' acceptance and support, and negatively with reported feelings of upset about changes in the course of their illness. The results heighten awareness among social workers and other healthcare professionals about the value of good death in patients in palliative care. This empirically-based awareness can foster professionals' ability to set intervention objectives to help patients in palliative care achieve this universally accepted goal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-222
Number of pages20
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

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