Care for the bodies of deceased cancer inpatients in Japanese palliative care units

Takuya Shinjo, Tatsuya Morita, Mitsunori Miyashita, Kazuki Sato, Satoru Tsuneto, Yasuo Shima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The aim of this study is to clarify the actual experiences and preferences of the bereaved family for the care of their deceased family member. Methods: At 95 palliative care units in Japan, a cross-sectional nationwide survey of the bereaved families of cancer patients was performed in 2007. Results: Of the 670 questionnaires sent to bereaved families, 492 were returned (response rate of 76%). The overall requirement to improve the end-of-life care was rated as follows: improvement needed (42.7%) and no improvement needed (58%). In total, 9.4% of the families reported that they experienced problems with the deceased body after leaving the hospital, including a change in the facial appearance (8.5%), stains on the body (8%), and an odor emanating from the body (4%). Regarding the preferences for treatment procedures, over half the families preferred not to have traditional procedures performed in which the deceased's hands are joined with a band, the jaws are tied with a band around the face to close the mouth, and the body is wrapped in a sheet. The most preferable treatment procedure was to have makeup applied lightly and moderately. Maintaining the appearance of the deceased body was related to the overall care evaluation of end-of-life care. Conclusions: As the preferences for the care of deceased bodies are changing, end-of-life care needs to be improved with respect to culture, religious views, and the wishes of the patient and their family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-31
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan 1


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