Children with cancer talk about their own death with their families

Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 1993 Jul-Sep;10(3):223-31. doi: 10.3109/08880019309029488.


In this study we looked at children dying from progressive malignant diseases and their families, to see whether they discussed the child's impending death together. We also looked at what factors might influence this. We questioned staff in the oncology department about their attitude to an open approach in talking about death and their views of how often it occurred. Analysis of 31 children over 3 years old and their families showed that the approach of death was mutually acknowledged by six families (19%); seven (23%) children were felt to know but chose not to discuss death; in two (6%) families, discussion with the child was blocked; nine (29%) children died unaware, and in seven (23%) families, what the children felt was unknown. Staff members (22) all advocated an open, honest approach in talking to children about their death but varied widely and overestimated how often they believed discussion of the child's impending death occurred (range, 10%-80%; median, 45%).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication*
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Patient Care Team
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sibling Relations
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Truth Disclosure