Transition towards end of life in palliative care: an exploration of its meaning for advanced cancer patients in Europe

J Palliat Care. 2007 Summer;23(2):69-79.


Transition as a concept in healthcare has been explored, but there is limited empirical work which considers transition in the context of palliative care, specifically from the patient perspective. This article reports findings from a qualitative study designed to explore transition experiences of 100 advanced cancer patients in six European countries. Data were analyzed using the ATLAS.ti program. Findings suggest that transition is a confusing time of mixed messages, poor communication, and uncertainty, but the physical environment of the hospice offers a place of ontological security from which to address this. Transition concepts fail to capture the palliative care experience fully. Transience, as an alternative concept, is reported, although further research is needed to explore this. In clinical practice, the value given to hospice by patients suggests that clinicians must carefully balance the benefit of mainstream integration with sensitive assimilation of hospice philosophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Communication
  • Europe
  • Existentialism / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Facility Environment
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*
  • Uncertainty