Experience of palliative care for patients with head and neck cancer through the eyes of next of kin
Background. Little is known about how palliative care is experienced by patients with head and neck cancer and their relatives. The aim of this retrospective study was to analyze this care from the point of view of surviving relatives. Methods. Fifty-five surviving relatives of patients with head and neck cancer treated at our department were enrolled in this study. Forty-five returned a completed questionnaire. Results. Medical treatment during the palliative stage was judged as sufficient in most cases, but was often felt to be intrusive. The majority of patients had more need for psychosocial and physical support. Contact between head and neck surgeon and patient was sufficient. Many relatives found information about the terminal stage unsatisfactory. Conclusion. Not all aspects of palliative care for head and neck patients are sufficient, and improvements are, in our setting, necessary, specifically within the psychosocial field. This supports the initiation of our Expert Center to improve quality of life in the palliative stage.