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      Common or multiple futures for end of life care around the world? Ideas from the ‘waiting room of history’

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          Abstract

          Around the world there is growing interest in the manner in which care is delivered to people at the end of life. However, there is little unanimity on what constitutes a ‘good death’ and the appropriate societal responses to the issue of delivering culturally relevant and sustainable forms of end of life care in different settings are not subjects of broad agreement. In this critical conceptual paper we focus on the emerging narratives of global palliative care and offer an assessment of their implications. We relate this to calls to improve end of life care across jurisdictions and settings, attempts to map and grade the development of palliative care provision, and to the emergence of a widely recognised global ‘quality of death index’. We consider an alternative approach to framing this debate, drawn from a subaltern and post-colonial studies perspective and suggest that adopting a truly global perspective will require acceptance of the plurality of past and present local problems and issues relating to end of life care, as well as the plural possibilities of how they might be overcome. In that context, we would not aim to universalise or privilege one particular global future for end of life care. Instead of homogenising end of life interventions, we seek to be open to multiple futures for the care of the dying.

          Highlights

          • Post-colonial perspective re-frames debate on the future of global palliative care.

          • Provides innovative critique of global rankings of ‘quality of death’.

          • Advocates multiple futures for end of life care in different settings.

          • Applies much needed theoretical approach to debates on global end of life care.

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          Most cited references 45

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          Good enough death: autonomy and choice in Australian palliative care.

          This paper draws upon Australian fieldwork to trace the changing notions of a good death held by hospice and palliative care practitioners. Palliative care practitioners search for an ideology to inform their practice within the context of a complex society for which there is no one good death. Social demographics, the multicultural nature of society and institutional constraints frame the experience of dying in complex ways, while contemporary social responses to dying reflect the uncertainties held by many Australians. Despite the fragmentation evident within contemporary Australian society, the hospice movement in Australia and in other Western contexts has sought to reintroduce a ritual for dying. The good death ideology of the original hospice movement proposed a manner of dying in which open communication and acceptance of death were actively encouraged. The hospice model of a good death, however, has become increasingly inappropriate in the current climate of patient autonomy and consumer choice. The practice of palliative care, a holistic form of care for dying people, which follows the individualistic ethic of choice, has emerged from and replaced the original hospice movement. Consequently, the good death of the original hospice movement has been abandoned in favour of a philosophy of a 'good enough' death. However, what may appear a compromise informed by ethical practice masks a return to routine medical practices and a hierarchy of care which prioritises the physical management of symptoms. It appears that while palliative care practitioners may often fail in their facilitation of a good death for their patients, they can be proactive in alleviating their patients' pain and physical discomfort.
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            Culture and End of Life Care: A Scoping Exercise in Seven European Countries

            Aim Culture is becoming increasingly important in relation to end of life (EoL) care in a context of globalization, migration and European integration. We explore and compare socio-cultural issues that shape EoL care in seven European countries and critically appraise the existing research evidence on cultural issues in EoL care generated in the different countries. Methods We scoped the literature for Germany, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Portugal, carrying out electronic searches in 16 international and country-specific databases and handsearches in 17 journals, bibliographies of relevant papers and webpages. We analysed the literature which was unearthed, in its entirety and by type (reviews, original studies, opinion pieces) and conducted quantitative analyses for each country and across countries. Qualitative techniques generated themes and sub-themes. Results A total of 868 papers were reviewed. The following themes facilitated cross-country comparison: setting, caregivers, communication, medical EoL decisions, minority ethnic groups, and knowledge, attitudes and values of death and care. The frequencies of themes varied considerably between countries. Sub-themes reflected issues characteristic for specific countries (e.g. culture-specific disclosure in the southern European countries). The work from the seven European countries concentrates on cultural traditions and identities, and there was almost no evidence on ethnic minorities. Conclusion This scoping review is the first comparative exploration of the cultural differences in the understanding of EoL care in these countries. The diverse body of evidence that was identified on socio-cultural issues in EoL care, reflects clearly distinguishable national cultures of EoL care, with differences in meaning, priorities, and expertise in each country. The diverse ways that EoL care is understood and practised forms a necessary part of what constitutes best evidence for the improvement of EoL care in the future.
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              Patient, caregiver, health professional and researcher views and experiences of participating in research at the end of life: a critical interpretive synthesis of the literature

              Background The development of the evidence-base informing end of life (EoL) care is hampered by the assumption that patients at the EoL are too vulnerable to participate in research. This study aims to systematically and critically review the evidence regarding the experiences and views of patients, caregivers, professionals and researchers about participation in EoL care research, and to identify best practices in research participation. Methods We searched seven electronic databases, and hand searched three journals and the bibliographies of relevant papers. Inclusion criteria were original research papers on involvement in EoL care research or its impact on participants. Critical interpretive synthesis was used to integrate the whole body of empirical evidence on this topic and generate theoretical categories from the evidence. Results Of a total of 239 identified studies, 20 studies met the inclusion criteria, from: the US (11), the UK (6) and Australia (3). Most focused on patients with cancer (12) and were conducted in hospices (9) or hospitals (7). Studies enquired about issues related to: EoL care research in general (5), specific research methods (13), and trial research (2). The studies evaluating willingness to participate in EoL care research showed positive outcomes across the different parties involved in research. Factors influencing willingness were mainly physical and cognitive impairment. Participating in research was a positive experience for most patients and carers but a minority experienced distress. This was related to: characteristics of the participants; the type of research; or the way it was conducted. Participatory study designs were found particularly suitable for enabling the inclusion of a wide range of participants. Conclusion The evidence explored within this study demonstrates that the ethical concerns regarding patient participation in EoL care research are often unjustified. However, research studies in EoL care require careful design and execution that incorporates sensitivity to participants’ needs and concerns to enable their participation. An innovative conceptual model for research participation relevant for potentially vulnerable people was developed.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Soc Sci Med
                Soc Sci Med
                Social Science & Medicine (1982)
                Pergamon
                0277-9536
                1873-5347
                1 January 2017
                January 2017
                : 172
                : 72-79
                Affiliations
                School of Interdisciplinary Studies, The University of Glasgow, Crichton University Campus, Dumfries, DG1 4ZL, Scotland, UK
                Author notes
                Article
                S0277-9536(16)30621-9
                10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.11.012
                5224187
                27894008
                © 2016 The Authors

                This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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