Perceptions of a life review programme among Chinese patients with advanced cancer

J Clin Nurs. 2012 Feb;21(3-4):564-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03842.x. Epub 2011 Sep 19.


Aims: The aim of this study was to elicit patients' perceptions of their participation in a life review programme for Chinese patients with advanced cancer.

Background: Empirical data have supported the suggestion that a life review is an effective psycho-spiritual intervention, particularly with older people. However, no life review programmes have been specifically designed for Chinese patients with advanced cancer, and their views on the life review therefore remain unknown.

Design: This study was a descriptive qualitative design.

Method: In-depth individual interviews were conducted with a sample of 26 patients with advanced cancer receiving home-based palliative care from a hospice after the completion of the programme.

Results: The six categories identified in the analysis were as follows: (1) accepting one's unique life; (2) feelings of emotional relief; (3) bolstering a sense of meaning in life; (4) leaving a personal legacy; (5) making future orientations; and (6) barriers to a life review.

Conclusion: Our life review programme is non-invasive care intervention for improving the psycho-spiritual well-being of Chinese patients with advanced cancer and helping them to prepare for death. This programme not only provides Chinese nurses with a new approach to meeting the unique needs of patients approaching death but also poses a challenge to customary beliefs about death, which is considered a social taboo in China.

Relevance to clinical practice: The life review programme can be integrated into the usual care arrangements to enhance the psycho-spiritual well-being of Chinese patients with advanced cancer. Nurses should be aware of the challenges involved in the process of conducting a life review.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / psychology*