Professor Deborah Waldrop and co-authors publish article, "The Developmental Transition From Living With to Dying From Cancer: Hospice Decision Making"

Published January 29, 2016

Deborah Waldrop

Deborah Waldrop.

Congratulations to Professor Deborah Waldrop and colleagues on the publication of their article, "The developmental transition from living with to dying from cancer: Hospice Decision-making," in The Journal of Psychosocial Oncology.

Waldrop, D.P., Meeker, M.A., Kutner, J.S. (2015) The developmental transition from living with to dying from cancer: Hospice Decision-making. The Journal of Psychosocial Oncology.


Despite increasing utilization of hospice care, older adults with cancer enroll in hospice for shorter periods of time than those with other life-limiting illnesses. How older adults with cancer and their family members consider hospice is unknown. The purpose of this study was to compare decision making in late-stage cancer in people who enrolled in hospice with those who declined. Concepts from the Carroll and Johnson (1990) decision-making framework guided the development of a hospice decision-making model. The study design was exploratory-descriptive, cross-sectional, and used a two-group comparison. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected in the same interview. Open-ended questions were used to explore the illness trajectory and decision-making process. The interrelationships between functional ability, quality of life, and social support with hospice decision making were assessed using the Katz, QLQ-30, and Lubben Social Network Scales. Study participants included 42 older adults with cancer who had been offered hospice enrollment (24 non-hospice and 18 hospice) and 38 caregivers (15 non-hospice and 23 hospice); N = 80. The decisional model illustrates that the recognition of advanced cancer and information and communication needs were experienced similarly by both groups. There was interaction between the decisional stages: formulation of awareness and generation of alternatives that informed the evaluation of hospice but these stages were different in the hospice and non-hospice groups. The hospice enrollment decision represents a critical developmental juncture, which is accompanied by a transformed identity and substantive cognitive shift. Increased attention to the psychosocial and emotional issues that accompany this transition are important for quality end-of-life care.