The quality of life of hospice patients: Patient and provider perceptions

Linda L. Steele, Beth Mills, Sonya R. Hardin, Leslie C. Hussey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The purposes of this study were to describe the quality of life (QOL) of terminally ill patients in a home-based hospice program and to examine the relationship between QOL data and patients' symptom distress, ability to function, interpersonal communication (support from family and friends), well-being (their affairs in order), and transcendence (religious comfort/support) as recorded in their charts. QOL was measured by the Missoula-Vitas Quality of Life Index (MVQOLI), an instrument designed specifically for use with terminally ill patients. The study was conducted over a three-year period with 129 terminally ill patients enrolled in a home-based hospice program of care. The MVQOLI was administered to patients within 20 days of their admission to hospice. A retrospective chart review was conducted to determine patients' levels of symptom distress, ability to function, social support, whether or not their affairs were in order, and religious comfort/support. The mean age of participants in this study was 67, with 54.3 percent male and 45.7 percent female. Cancer was the primary diagnosis for 92.2 percent of the sample, and 35 percent of these patients had a diagnosis of lung cancer. Of the 7.8 percent non-cancer diagnoses, five were diagnosed with AIDS, four with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and one with chronic heart failure. The results of this study revealed positive scores on the five dimensions of the MVQOLI QOL scale, indicating that within 20 days of admission to hospice, patients rated their QOL as good to very good. Data obtained from the chart review also indicated that patients did not experience a great deal of symptom distress (e.g., pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and restlessness). A significant correlation existed between age and QOL; number of interventions and pain levels; and marital status, well-being, interpersonal relationships, and transcendence. Shortness of breath and well-being were significantly correlated with QOL. There was no significant correlation between gender, race, or closeness to death and the five dimensions of the MVQOLI and chart review assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-110
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • End-of-life care
  • Palliative care
  • Quality of life
  • Terminal illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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