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Correlates of Death Anxiety Among Taiwanese Cancer Patients

Tang, Pei-Ling MSN, RN; Chiou, Chou-Ping PhD, RN; Lin, Huey-Shyan PhD; Wang, Chi MSN, RN; Liand, Shi-Long MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31820254c6

Background: Patients with cancer experience the approaching of death, which increases their fear of dying and the intensity of suffering.

Objective: This study examined relationships among cancer patients' demographic characteristics, sense of purpose in life, and death anxiety.

Methods: The study used a cross-sectional correlational design. Data were collected using a demographic questionnaire, a sense-of-purpose-in-life scale, and a death anxiety scale. The stepwise multiple regression analysis was conducted to identify the factors that influenced the degree of death anxiety.

Results: Two hundred nineteen cancer patients who met the criteria for participation in the study completed the questionnaires. Results demonstrated that only 33.8% of participants had a sense of purpose in life, whereas 38.4% were uncertain about sense of purpose in life, and 27.8% indicated that they had no sense of purpose in life. Sense of purpose in life, level of fear of disease relapse, and sex were significant predictors, accounting for 32% of all variance in levels of death anxiety among cancer patients.

Conclusions: Sense of purpose in life, level of fear of disease relapse, and sex had detrimental effects on levels of death anxiety among cancer patients.

Implications for Practice: The research results may provide clinicians with an understanding of death anxiety among cancer patients and facilitate improvements in sense of purpose in life among patients, which may reduce death anxiety among such patients.

Author Affiliations: Department of Nursing, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital (Mss Tang and Wang); School of Nursing, I-Shou University (Dr Chiou); Department of Nursing Management, Fooyin University (Dr Lin); and Department of Radiotherapy, Kaohsiung Medical University (Dr Liand), Taiwan.

Correspondence: Chou-Ping Chiou, PhD, RN, No. 8, E-Da Rd, Jiau-shu Tsuen, Yan-chau Shiang, Kaohsiung County, 824 Taiwan, Republic of China (

Accepted for publication October 17, 2010.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.