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Expressed desire for hastened death by patients with advanced cancer had several meanings and uses

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Q What are the meanings and uses of an expressed desire for hastened death in patients with advanced cancer?


Qualitative study using phenomenologic inquiry.


An urban cancer research centre.


7 English speaking patients (age range 40–79 y, 4 men) with advanced cancer who had expressed a desire for hastened death on ⩾1 occasion.


Data were collected during a series of 2–6 indepth interviews that lasted 30–60 minutes. Time periods for each interview series ranged from 2 days to 6 months. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed, and themes were developed through content analysis.


Chronic triggers that preceded the expressed desire for hastened death included debilitating progression of disease; perception of chronic and progressive loss of social support, dignity, autonomy, and sense of worth; and perception of being a burden to self or others in the present or future. Acute events preceding expression of a desire for hastened death …

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  • For correspondence: Dr N Coyle, Pain and Palliative Care Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA. with copy to editor

  • Source of funding: no external funding.