Self-assessments of 34 spouses of patients who had died from cancer at St Christopher's Hospice were compared with self-assessments of a matched group of spouses of patients who had died in other hospitals in the vicinity. The spouses of St Christopher's patients differed significantly from the comparison group in spending more time at the hospital, talking to more members of staff, other patients and visitors, reporting less anxiety and psychosomatic accompaniments of anxiety before (but not after) the patient's death and being less worried about pain, others hurting or harming the patient or about revealing their own fears to the patient. The institutional ideals of the Hospice were characterized as: 'The hospital is like a family', 'Nothing is too much trouble' and 'Don't worry'.
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