Communication Disparity Between the Bereaved and Others: What Hurts Them and What Is Unhelpful? A Nationwide Study of the Cancer Bereaved

Mayumi Ishida, Hideki Onishi, Tatsuya Morita, Yosuke Uchitomi, Megumi Shimizu, Satoru Tsuneto, Yasuo Shima, Mitsunori Miyashita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Context: The importance of communication between the cancer bereaved and others has been emphasized, but little is known about the more problematic aspects of this communication such as “unhelpful communication.” Objectives: The aim of this study was to establish which types of communication are perceived by the bereaved to be unhelpful. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, anonymous, nationwide survey at 103 certified hospice facilities/palliative care units in Japan. Results: A total of 630 (63%) bereaved responded. Over 60% of the bereaved experiencing such communication considered it to be unhelpful, with the most unhelpful communication being “They emphasized the positive aspects of death.” Thirteen items related to communication were separated into two factors (“advice for recovery” and “comments on cancer”) by factor analysis. “Comments on cancer” were more unhelpful to them and were more often provided by those around them. With regard to “advice for recovery,” losing a spouse was a stronger predictor with a higher odds ratio for communication distress than losing a parent (odds ratio, 5.34; 95% CI, 1.63–17.57). Conclusion: A number of the bereaved have experienced unhelpful communication regarding advice on dealing with bereavement and cancer. To prevent putting an unnecessary burden on the bereaved with such unhelpful communication, it is essential to understand problematic aspects. Even when people have no intention of hurting the bereaved, some communication may do so. Communication with the bereaved is also a core clinical skill required by health professionals, and further efforts are required to support the grieving process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1061-1067.e1
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr


  • Cancer bereaved
  • communication
  • distress
  • J-HOPE study
  • nationwide study
  • unhelpful


Dive into the research topics of 'Communication Disparity Between the Bereaved and Others: What Hurts Them and What Is Unhelpful? A Nationwide Study of the Cancer Bereaved'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this