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Dignity and palliative end-of-life care 

Dignity and palliative end-of-life care
Chapter:
Dignity and palliative end-of-life care
Author(s):

Harvey Max Chochinov

, Susan E. McClement

, and Maia S. Kredentser

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199656097.003.0106
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date: 07 May 2021

The concept of dignity continues to receive attention in health care, with particular implications for end-of-life care. This chapter reviews current conceptualizations of dignity, integrating medical, philosophical, and ontological perspectives. The centrality of dignity to palliative care is discussed, exploring empirical findings, which examine what dignity means to patients and families in the context of illness and end-of-life care. The chapter provides an overview of validated tools, evidence-based therapies, and practical ‘everyday’ communication skills that health-care providers in diverse clinical settings can use to enhance patient dignity. Suggestions are provided for extending existing research into the notion of dignity as it relates to vulnerable groups, and how interventions aimed at supporting patient dignity can impact family members. Dignity subsumes many key aspects of comprehensive care, which can guide health-care providers towards improving end-of-life experiences for patients and families.

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