Purpose: Patients' knowledge, beliefs, or concerns about opioids, palliative care, and homecare can be potential barriers to providing quality palliative care. The primary aim of this study was to clarify knowledge about opioids, beliefs about palliative care, and concerns about homecare in advanced cancer patients.
Methods: An anonymous questionnaire was sent to 1,619 outpatients with advanced cancer at 25 hospitals in four different regions of Japan. The respondents were asked to report their knowledge about opioids, beliefs about palliative care, and concerns about homecare, in addition to the levels of their sense of security regarding receiving cancer care in the region.
Results: A total of 925 responses were received. In total, 28% believed that opioids are addictive and/or shorten life; 52% believed that palliative care is only for terminally ill patients; 75% agreed that being taken care of at home puts a heavy burden on the family; and 61% agreed that home-visit services cannot respond to sudden changes in a patient's condition. Levels of patients' sense of security were significantly higher in those who agreed that "opioids can relieve most pain caused by cancer" "palliative care relieves pain and distress", "palliative care is provided along with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy", and "pain can be alleviated as effectively through home-visit services as it can at the hospital", and those who disagreed with the statements that "home-visit services cannot respond to sudden changes in a patient's condition" and "being taken care of at home puts a burden on the family".
Conclusions: Advanced cancer patients frequently had incorrect knowledge about opioids, a belief that palliative care is only for terminally ill patients, and concerns about homecare, especially the family burden and responses to sudden changes. Providing appropriate information about the safety of opioids, the availability of palliative care during the entire course of the disease, and realistic information about homecare is of marked importance to promote patients' sense of security.