A cross-cultural study on behaviors when death is approaching in East Asian countries: What are the physician-perceived common beliefs and practices?

An article from Media Watch, compiled and annotated by Barry R. Ashpole (Ontario, Canada). More reports can be found at IPCRC.NET

Medicine, 2015;94(39):e1573. Responses were obtained from Japanese, Korea, and Taiwan physicians, respectively. While 50% of the Japanese physicians reported that they often or very often experienced families as being reluctant to discuss end-of-life issues, the corresponding figures were 59% in Korea and 70% in Taiwan. Two specific reasons to avoid end-of-life discussion, “bad things happen after you say them out loud” and “a bad life is better than a good death,” were significantly more frequently observed in Taiwan. Prioritizing the oldest of the family in breaking bad news and having all family members present at the time of death were significantly more frequently observed in Korea and Taiwan. Half of Taiwanese physicians reported they often or very often experienced the patients/family wanted to go back home to die because the soul would not be able to return from the hospital. In all countries, more than 70% of the physicians reported certain family members were expected to care for the patient at home. At the time of death, while no Japanese physicians stated they often experienced patients wanted a religious person to visit, the corresponding figure in Korean and Taiwan was about 40%. Uncovered expression of emotion was frequently observed in Korean and Taiwan, and 42% of the Japanese physicians reported family members cleaned the dead body of the patient themselves.

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