Communication about death and dying
A sociological analysis of institutionalized Palliative Care
Conference Paper/Poster - Oct 8, 2015
Domeisen Benedetti Franzisca
Background: Death and dying concern everyone, but literature and practical experience in a cantonal hospital in Switzerland show that communication about this issue is difficult and seem to have little importance in the clinical daily routine. However, communication about death and dying is seen as important to develop a social as well as clinical culture, but there is a gap between ideal and reality. By finding reasons for communication difficulties explanations from an individual psychological perspective don’t seem sufficient, they may be seen as topic of a larger sociological discourse.
Aim: This project shall help to understand the practical relevance of communication about death and dying and to capture interactive practice of communication in a cantonal hospital in Switzerland.
Methods: The project is designed as ethnography to explore the empirical field with various qualitative methods (triangulation). For data collection and analysis Grounded Theory is used. Qualitative interviews with palliative care professionals and associated stakeholders, participatory observations of palliative care consultations (including patients and if present relatives) and analyses of in-hospital concepts are conducted.
Results: 11 qualitative interviews with palliative care professionals and 3 with associated stakeholders have been conducted. One participatory observation of a consultation (whole consultation taped and transliterated with patient consent) and 8 reflections about palliative care consultations have been completed. Data collection is still going on considering Grounded Theory approach of theoretical sampling. A couple of codes have been found in the data material. Key categories and further questions have been elaborated.
Conclusion/ discussion: In practice, addressing death and dying seems to be difficult for palliative care professionals. Acting in such specific situations makes high demands on them and high expectations have often to be scaled down.