Good deaths, bad deaths: older people's assessments of the risks and benefits of morphine and terminal sedation in end-of-life care

Seymour, J., Bellamy, G., Gott, M., Ahmedzai, S. and Clark, D. (2002) Good deaths, bad deaths: older people's assessments of the risks and benefits of morphine and terminal sedation in end-of-life care. Health, Risk and Society, 4(3), pp. 287-303. (doi:10.1080/1369857021000016641)

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Abstract

Little is known about end-of-life preferences or how risks are assessed surrounding doctor-patient or doctor-family relationships during end-of-life decision making. Older people are often excluded from end-of-life care research although there is some evidence that most would express preferences for 'comfort care' rather than life-sustaining interventions if facing terminal illness. This paper draws on data from focus group discussions with older people to illuminate how interpersonal and bodily aspects of the dying process are associated with shifting evaluations of two core techniques of palliative care: morphine administration and terminal sedation. Participants understood an idealised death to be that in which morphine administration and terminal sedation serve to provide dying people with an easy, comfortable and quiet death. In this, bodily symptoms of distress are discreetly controlled and death occurs at an appropriate time and place. At the same time the role of medicine in procuring an idealised death is linked to profound concerns about new risks that flow from the intermarriage of medical science with the basic human obligation of providing compassionate care to those who are dying.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Clark, Professor David
Authors: Seymour, J., Bellamy, G., Gott, M., Ahmedzai, S., and Clark, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Health, Risk and Society
Publisher:Routledge
ISSN:1369-8575
ISSN (Online):1469-8331
Published Online:14 July 2010

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