Issues related to family history of cancer at the end of life: a palliative care providers’ survey
Addressing the concerns of end-of-life patients or their relatives about their family history of cancer could benefit patients and family members. Little is known about how palliative care providers respond to these concerns. The purpose of this pilot study was to assess palliative care providers’ knowledge about familial and hereditary cancers and explore their exposure to patients’ and relatives’ concerns about their family history of cancer, and their self-perceived ability to deal with such concerns. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in the Quebec City (Canada) catchment area among palliative care professionals. Fifty-eight palliative care professionals working in hospice, home care and hospital-based palliative care units completed the questionnaire. All physicians and 63% of nurses occasionally addressed concerns of patients and relatives about their family history of cancer, but they reported a low confidence level in responding to such concerns. They also showed knowledge gaps in defining features of a significant family history of cancer, and most (78%) would welcome specific training on the matter. Our findings highlight the relevance of offering education and training opportunities about familial cancers and associated risks to palliative care providers. The needs and concerns of end-of-life patients and their families need to be explored to ensure palliative care providers can adequately assist patients and their relatives about their family history of cancer. Ethical implications should be considered.
KeywordsFamily history of cancer Palliative care Genetic literacy Health professionals Survey
This research was supported by a grant from ERMOS (Équipe de Recherche Michel-Sarrazin en Oncologie Psychosociale et Soins Palliatifs).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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