Postoperative death is the third leading cause of death in the world, but the quality of death after surgery has been poorly documented. This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of a questionnaire survey for the bereaved family regarding the postoperative quality of death and the impact of preoperative functional disability on the quality of death.
Patients aged ≥55 years who underwent scheduled surgery under general anesthesia in a tertiary-care hospital in Japan between April 2016 and December 2018 were enrolled. Patients’ functional disability was assessed using the 12-item World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0) before surgery and scored based on the sum of the 12 items (0-48). Postoperative deaths were detected in medical records 3 months and 1 year after surgery. When death had occurred, a questionnaire on the quality of death using the short version of the Good Death Inventory (GDI) was sent to the bereaved family, which was scored as the sum of the 10 domains (10-70).
Of 4020 eligible patients, 148 patients (3.6 %) died within 1 year after surgery. A hundred and twenty-nine bereaved families were sent the questionnaire, and 83 of them (64.3%) submitted valid responses suggesting the high feasibility of this questionnaire survey. There were no differences between the GDI and WHODAS 2.0 scores (median 49 [interquartile range 41-55] vs. 49 [43-54], respectively, p = 0.90). In addition, multiple regression analysis of related factors using the short version of the GDI as a continuous variable showed that age and death in a facility other than that in which the surgery was performed were associated with lower GDI scores (p = 0.004 and p = 0.04, respectively).
The completion rate was 64.3%. There was no association between the quality of death and preoperative functional disability; however, older age was associated with a higher quality of death, while death in a facility other than that in which the surgery was performed was associated with lower quality of death.

© 2023. The Author(s).