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baths, palliative care, symptom burden, terminal care



  1. Hayashi, Eriko PhD, RN
  2. Aoyama, Maho PhD, RN
  3. Fukano, Fumiyasu MD
  4. Takano, Junko MSN, RN
  5. Shimizu, Yoichi PhD, RN
  6. Miyashita, Mitsunori PhD, RN


This observational, controlled study explored the effects of bathing on the physical and psychological aspects of terminal cancer patients on a palliative care ward. With nurses' assistance, the patients evaluated and recorded the severity of their symptoms at 10:00 AM, 30 minutes after initial bathing, and at 5:00 PM. The bathing care was provided as routine care according to the patients' wishes. Twelve symptoms were measured using 9 items (numbers 1-9) from the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System-Revised Japanese version and 3 items from the Cancer Fatigue Scale. Outcomes were compared between bathing days and nonbathing days (control) and between before and after bathing.


Of the 57 bathers, data were available for both bathing days and nonbathing days for 42 bathers. In the comparison between bathing and nonbathing days, tiredness was significantly improved (effect size [ES], 0.35; P = .02). On the basis of the pre-post bathing comparison, 6 symptoms, namely, tiredness (ES, 0.40; P < .01), lack of appetite (ES, 0.36; P = .01), decreased well-being (ES, 0.33; P = .01), anxiety (ES, 0.36; P = .01), pain (ES, 0.31; P = .02), and depression (ES, 0.30; P = .02), were significantly improved. Bathing in a tub effectively improves tiredness and might be effective for distressing symptoms in end-of-life cancer patients.