Asgeir R. Helgason Research Network

Cancer research

Palliative end-of-life care

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We are presently starting a new project in palliative end-of-life cancer care financed by the Kamprad Foundation. Project leader in Sweden is Ásgeir R. Helgason and Dr. Bragi Skúlason heads the project in Iceland. The project, is called “Meeting men and their significant others in palliative cancer care”.

A systematic non-confrontative and evidence-based training program for communication, based on Motivational Interviewing, will be offered to practicing contact nurses in palliative cancer care.

Collaboration has been established with the Motivational Interviewing Coding Laboratory (Mic-Lab) for training and supervision purposes.

The project is a development of a recently finished a research project on gender differences in palliative care focusing on dying cancer patients and their closest relatives. An intervention was developed and tested in 192 patients in end of life care, aiming to facilitate communication between patients and specialized health personnel regarding patients impending death.

The results showed that only 30% of men initiated discussions about own impending death with specialized health care personnel, compared with 70% of women. After the intervention 60% of the men and 90% of the women had participated in a discussion on own impending death.

We concluded from the study that while men are much less likely than women to initiate a discussion on own impending death, the men responded positively to a relatively simple intervention based on Motivational Interviewing.

Another important conclusion from our study was that the men needed support to enter into communication regarding own impending death and this could be achieved without compromising ethical principles regarding personal integrity.

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