Similarities and differences between China and Sweden regarding the core features of palliative care for people aged 60 or older: a systematic scoping review

Gerd Ahlström, Hongli Huang, Yu Luo, Christina Bökberg, Birgit H Rasmussen, Eva I Persson, Lian Xue, Le Cai, Pingfen Tang, Magnus Persson, Jingjing Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Despite the increasing longevity of the world's population, with an unprecedented rise in the number of people who need palliative care (PC), there has been sparse research regarding palliative care for older people, especially when it comes to comparison of PC between healthcare systems and cultures. The aim of this systematic scoping review was to identify the characteristics of the body of literature and to examine the knowledge gaps concerning PC research for older people (> 60 years) in two healthcare systems and cultures, mainland China and Sweden.

METHODS: The guidelines PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews), and PICOS (Patient/population, Intervention, Comparison/control, and Outcome) were used. Empirical studies on patients 60 years or older, next of kin or staff participating in a palliative care intervention or setting were included. They were conducted in mainland China or in Sweden during 2007-2019, were published in English and were extracted from seven databases: Embase, PubMed, Scopus, Cinahl, PsycInfo, Academic Search Complete and Cochrane Library. Two independent researchers conducted the selection of studies, data extraction and methodological evaluation. Any disagreements were resolved in consultation with a third researcher. The analysis was manifest directed content analysis based on PICOS domains.

RESULTS: Of the 15 studies, four were from mainland China and 11 from Sweden. Both countries included older patients with cancer but also other end-stage diseases such as heart failure and dementia. The studies differed in design, method and the content of the interventions. The study in China based on traditional Chinese medicine concerns traditional Chinese folk music. The six qualitative studies from Sweden were evaluations of five interventions.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the high age of the participating patients, there was no focus on an ageing perspective concerning palliative care. To adapt to the changes taking place in most societies, future research should have increased focus on older persons' need for palliative care and should take account of issues concerning research ethics, ethnicity and culture.

REGISTERED IN PROSPERO: CRD42020078685 , available from.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Nursing
  • Geriatrics

Free keywords

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • China
  • Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms
  • Palliative Care/methods
  • Sweden


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