Family experience of palliative sedation therapy: proportional vs. continuous deep sedation

Kengo Imai, Tatsuya Morita, Masanori Mori, Naosuke Yokomichi, Toshihiro Yamauchi, Satoru Miwa, Satoshi Inoue, Akemi Shirado Naito, Kento Masukawa, Yoshiyuki Kizawa, Satoru Tsuneto, Yasuo Shima, Hiroyuki Otani, Mitsunori Miyashita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Some patients experience intense symptoms refractory to intensive palliative care, and palliative sedation is sometimes used. Palliative sedation may be classified into proportional and continuous deep sedation (CDS). The primary aim of this study was to compare family experience between families of patients who received proportional or CDS. Methods: A multicenter questionnaire survey was conducted involving bereaved families of cancer patients who received proportional or CDS based on a sedation protocol. Overall evaluation of sedation (satisfaction, family-perceived distress, appropriateness of timing, and patient distress) and 13-item family concerns, good death, satisfaction with care, depression, quality of care, unfinished business, and balance between symptom relief and maintaining communication were measured. Results: Among the 2120 patients who died, 222 patients received a continuous infusion of midazolam. A sedation protocol was used in 147 patients, and questionnaires were sent to 124 families. A total of 78 responses were finally returned (proportional, 58 vs. CDS, 20). There were no significant differences in the overall evaluation, family concerns, total score of good death, satisfaction, depression, or balance between symptom relief and maintaining communication. On the other hand, some quality of care items, i.e., relationship with medical staff (P < 0.01), physical care by nurses (P = 0.04), and coordination and consistency (P = 0.04), were significantly better in the CDS group than in the proportional sedation group. Family-reported unfinished business was also better in the CDS group, with marginal significance. Conclusions: Family experience of CDS was not less favorable than proportional sedation, and actually rated more favorably for some elements of quality of care and unfinished business.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3903-3915
Number of pages13
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May


  • Continuous deep sedation
  • Experience
  • Family
  • Palliative sedation
  • Proportional sedation
  • Protocol


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