Le jour où Lucien Fléchet meurt, quatre de ses amis à la retraite ont l'idée folle de choisir leur mort. Des plages de Miami aux falaises de l'Algrave en passant par la Suisse et le Cameroun, ils font face à des situations imprévisibles et à des rencontres loufoques.
Dignity has gained increasing attention as a vital component of quality of life and quality of end-of-life care. This article reviews psychological, spiritual, existential, and physical issues facing patients at the end of life as well as practical considerations in providing therapy for this population. The authors reviewed several evidence-based treatments for enhancing end-of-life experience and mitigating suffering, including a primary focus on dignity therapy and an additional review of meaning-centered psychotherapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Each of these therapies has an emerging evidence base, but they have not been compared to each other in trials. Thus, the choice of psychotherapy for patients at the end of life will reflect patient characteristics, therapist orientation and expertise with various approaches, and feasibility within the care context. Future research is needed to directly compare the efficacy and feasibility of these interventions to determine optimal care delivery.
BACKGROUND: Most older people wish to live in the familiar surroundings of their own home until they die. Knowledge concerning dignity and dignity loss of home-dwelling older women living with incurable cancer should be a foundation for quality of care within municipal healthcare services. The informal caregivers of these women can help increase the understanding of sources related to dignity and dignity loss.
AIM: The aim of this study was to explore informal caregivers' perceptions of sources related to dignity and dignity loss in end-of-life of older home-dwelling women with incurable cancer.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHOD: The study was founded upon Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics. In-depth interviews with 13 informal caregivers were carried out, and four participant observations were performed during home meetings.
ETHICAL CONSIDERATION: The study was based on voluntary participation, informed consent, confidentiality and the opportunity to withdraw at any time. The Norwegian Social Science Data Services approved the study.
RESULTS: Three main sources important in preserving the older women's dignity were identified: maintaining one's self-concept, remaining hopeful and sustaining freedom of choice. We also identified three main sources that lead to dignity loss: Sensing loss of human value, experiencing absence of gentleness and feelings of being treated as an object.
DISCUSSION AND FINAL CONSIDERATIONS: On the individual level, the opportunity to maintain one's self-concept and control in life, preserved dignity, while feelings of existential loneliness led to dignity loss. On the relational level, being confirmed as worthy human beings promoted the women's dignity, whereas dignity loss was related to uncaring behaviours from healthcare professionals. On the societal level, individual decisions concerning travel situations and the place to stay when nearing end-of-life were of crucial importance. Constituting these women's living space, these perspectives should be emphasized in healthcare professionals' educational training and in the municipal end-of-life care of these patients.
In this study, we explored and identified crucial experiences that constitute dignity and loss of dignity among older women living with incurable cancer at home. In-depth interviews with 13 women, and participant observations of five of these women, were performed. Hermeneutical interpretations of interview texts and field notes were conducted. Crucial experiences that preserved the women's dignity included having a sense of control, making one's own decisions, experiencing hope and meaningfulness, feeling valued as a human being and having the opportunity to be in a treasured and nurturing environment. Dignity loss was related to losing the opportunity for self-determination, sensing hopelessness and worthlessness in a shroud of illness, experiencing violation of their personal life and being situated in surroundings that enhanced their sense of disconnection and alienation. Quality of care was experienced as more important than the physical place in which to spend their final stage of life. The findings suggest that dignity preservation should be a core dimension in care for older women living with incurable cancer at home. Future research should investigate how dignity-preserving care can be organized and practiced within municipal palliative care services.
Context: Most older adults will face threats to loss of health and social support, which can affect their perceived dignity. Although problems with perceived dignity increase in the context of cancer, the specific experience for those older compared with younger patients with advanced cancer has not been described despite its contributions to the wish to hasten death (WTHD).
Objectives: To understand the influence of age group to the perception of dignity, considering changes in quality of life and the WTHD in patients with advanced cancer.
Methods: The Patient Dignity Inventory was administered to 194 patients with advanced cancer. The data were analyzed by separating the sample into age groups younger than 65 years (N = 106) or 65 years and older (N = 88). Linear regression models were adjusted with the explanatory variables of WTHD, quality of life, as well as functional status, physical dependence, depression, anxiety, and sociodemographic variables.
Results: Older patients showed a 2.6% decrease in the total scores of perceived dignity-related distress compared to younger patients.
Conclusion: Older age could be a protective factor against the perception of loss of dignity in patients with advanced cancer, a more positive perspective of the aging experience.
In the span of five years, my father, brother and mother died. I was close in both emotional and physical proximity to all three. In this role, I witnessed their struggle for dignity at the end of life in whatever manner was left to them. This was made more difficult as they shuffled through the hospital-nursing home-rehabilitation center-home health continuum of care. The patient enters one of those entry points, then seems to ricochet between them. This is an account of how illness and pain erased the life force from my loved ones while I watched helplessly from the sidelines. The emotional toll of seeing their decline was hard to calculate but what of the cost to the one who is dying? And yet each sought to carve some space to imprint their unique spark on their final days even when they had lost the ability to communicate coherently.
In this paper we, twin sisters, present a joint autoethnographic account of providing end of life care for our mum who had terminal cancer. Using the theoretical framing of performance from Goffman's theory of Dramaturgy, we present the findings from a joint autoethnography, focusing on two key themes: performing emotion work and performing what we conceptualise as ‘dignity work’. This paper's contributions are twofold. First, conceptually, this paper offers an important contribution to literature concerned with the sociology of illness, by critically engaging with Goffman's notion of frontstage and backstage performance, applied to the context of home care provided by family carers. The second contribution of this paper is methodological; we promote the under-utilised approach of a joint autoethnography and argue for its usefulness in the context of end of life care. We contend that the process of writing this paper was emotionally challenging, yet arriving at the final paper, which serves as a legacy of our mum, was cathartic. We argue for the usefulness of written diaries as a backstage arena through which other informal carers can think through, and come to terms with, experiences of death and dying.
BACKGROUND: Preserving personal dignity is an important part of palliative care. Generally, autonomy, independency and not being a burden to others are emphasised for preserving dignity. Dignity has not been studied yet from the perspective of the growing group of patients with a migration background living in Western countries.
AIM: To gain insight into (1) what patients - and their relatives - with a Turkish, Moroccan or Surinamese background, living in the Netherlands, in their last phase of life find important aspects of dignity, and (2) how care professionals can preserve and strengthen the dignity of these patients.
DESIGN: Qualitative thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 23 patients and 21 relatives with a Turkish, Moroccan or Surinamese background were interviewed.
RESULTS: For respondents dignity encompassed surrender to God's or Allah's will and meaningful relationships with others, rather than preserving autonomy. Surrender to God or Allah meant accepting the illness, the situation and performing religious practice. A meaningful relationship meant being assisted or cared for by family members and maintaining a social role. Professionals could preserve dignity by showing respect and attention; guaranteeing physical integrity, hygiene and self-direction; and indirect communication about diagnoses and prognoses.
CONCLUSIONS: Religion and appropriate involvement of family members are important aspects of dignity in the last phase of life, in addition to autonomy and independency. Care professionals need to take these factors into account in order to provide person-centred care.
La pandémie à COVID-19 touche particulièrement les personnes les plus âgées et expose à un risque de mortalité les plus fragiles. Des mesures de confinement, de distanciation sociale et d’isolement ont été mises en place pour limiter la propagation virale. S’il existe un rationnel clair pour réduire la contagiosité de l’infection par ce biais, les conséquences néfastes de cet isolement social, en particulier pour cette population hétérogène, âgée et fragile sont difficiles à appréhender. En particulier, la rupture avec les structures habituelles de support et de soutien à domicile ou en institution, mais aussi le risque d’une diminution de « l’empowerment » de la personne âgée par rapport à ses propres décisions de santé et de vie sociale, imposent une vigilance particulière pour éviter un risque d’âgisme sociétal. Il peut ainsi exister, en regard de cette population particulière, des conflits de valeurs entre protection individuelle et collective, d’une part, et respect de l’autonomie et de l’indépendance, d’autre part. Cet article propose une réflexion éthique de la question du confinement des personnes âgées à risque de fragilités, s’appuyant sur des principes de l’éthique médicale, pour ouvrir les pistes de réflexion qui permettent une approche positive de la vulnérabilité, garante du respect de la dignité de la personne et de l’équité dans l’accès aux soins.
As they age, many people are afraid that they might become a burden to their families and friends. In fact, fear of being a burden is one of the most frequently cited reasons for individuals who request physician aid in dying. Why is this fear so prevalent, and what are the issues underlying this concern? I argue that perceptions of individual autonomy, dependency, and dignity all contribute to the fear of becoming a burden. However, this fear is misplaced; common conceptions of these values should be re-framed and re-examined. Practices that support a more community-centered type of autonomy can be found in dependency and dignity. This paper offers some practical examples of how to address common end-of-life situations that may cause anxiety to patients who are worried about being a burden. These practices include discussing expectations, both for care and how the relationship among the participants might change, and modeling respectful caregiving behaviors. Most difficult of all, though, includes cultural and societal attitude changes so that people recognize the good in receiving care and get used to the idea that they do not need to do anything to be valuable.
Background: Palliative care is a modality of treatment that addresses physical, psychological and spiritual symptoms. Dignity therapy, a form of psychotherapy, was developed by Professor Harvey Chochinov, MD in 2005.The aim of the study was to assess the effect of one session of dignity therapy on quality of life in advanced cancer patients.
Methods: This was a randomized control trial of 144 patients (72 in each arm) randomized into group 1 (intervention arm) and group 2 (control arm). Baseline ESAS scores were determined in both arms following which group 1 received Dignity therapy while Group 2 received usual care only. Data collected was presented as printed (Legacy) documents to group 1 participants. These documents were a summary of previous discussions held. Post intervention ESAS scores were obtained in both groups after 6 weeks. Analysis was based on the intention to treat principle and descriptive statistics computed. The main outcome was symptom distress scores on the ESAS (summated out of 100 and symptom specific scores out of 10). The student T-test was used to test for difference in ESAS scores at follow up and graphs were computed for common cancers and comorbidities.
Results: Of the 144 (72 patients in each arm) patients randomized, 70% were female while 30% were male with a mean age of 50 years. At 6 weeks, 11 patients were lost to follow up, seven died and 126 completed the study. The commonly encountered cancers were gastrointestinal cancers (43%, p = 0.29), breast cancer (27.27% p = 0.71) and gynaecologic cancers (23% p = 0.35). Majority of the patients i.e. 64.3% had no comorbidities.
The primary analysis results showed higher scores for the DT group (change in mean = 1.57) compared to the UC group (change in mean = - 0.74) yielding a non-statistically significant difference in change scores of 1.44 (p = 0.670; 95% CI - 5.20 to 8.06). After adjusting for baseline scores, the mean (summated) symptom distress score was not significant (GLM p = 0.78). Dignity therapy group showed a trend towards statistical improvement in anxiety (p = 0.059). The largest effects seen were in improvement of appetite, lower anxiety and improved wellbeing (Cohen effect size 0.3, 0.5 and 0.31 respectively).
Conclusion: Dignity therapy showed no statistical improvement in overall quality of life. Symptom improvement was seen in anxiety and this was a trend towards statistical significance (p = 0.059).
Cette réédition totalement revue et enrichie contribue à une appropriation des évolutions législatives portées par la loi du 2 février 2016 créant de nouveaux droits en faveur des malades et des personnes en fin de vie (droits de la personne, sédation profonde et continue, souffrance, directives anticipées opposables, etc.). Les conditions du mourir interrogent à la fois nos obligations sociales et les exigences du soin. Alors que s'instaurent une nouvelle culture de la fin de vie, de nouvelles solidarités, quelles seront les incidences sur les pratiques professionnelles au service de la personne malade et de ses proches ? Ces situations toujours singulières, irréductibles aux débats généraux portant sur "la mort dans la dignité" justifient une exigence de clarification, la restitution d’expériences et la transmission de savoirs vrais.
Dans une approche pluridisciplinaire, cet ouvrage associe les meilleures compétences pour proposer une synthèse rigoureuse et complète des réflexions et des expériences au cœur des débats les plus délicats de notre société. Il constitue une indispensable référence à destination des professionnels mais tout autant d'un large public, la concertation nationale sur la fin de vie ayant fait apparaître un important besoin d'informations dans ces domaines à la fois intimes et publics.
Cette "interruption volontaire de vieillesse", c'est avant tout un témoignage touchant pour comprendre le choix et le combat de Jacqueline Jencquel afin d'avoir le droit de terminer sa vie dignement et d'en choisir les conditions. Mourir avant d'être déjà à moitié mort, c'est la vision que défend une femme qui a passionnément aimé la vie et la liberté.
Cet ouvrage offre une analogie de la vie comme une oeuvre littéraire ou d’art, achevée quand on la juge accomplie. Se fondant sur le témoignage de personnes ayant le moyen de mourir volontairement, le philosophe questionne leur conception de la dignité, d’une vie digne d’être vécue et propose une réflexion sur la mort et l’exercice de la liberté.
Introduction: Dignity Therapy (DT) is a brief, individualized, narrative psychotherapy developed to reduce psychosocial and existential distress, and promote dignity, meaning, and hope in end of life patients. Previous studies have shown that DT was effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and improving dignity-related distress. However, less is known about its efficacy on spiritual well-being. The aim of this study is to contribute to the existing literature by investigating the effects of DT on specific dimensions of spiritual well-being, demoralization and dignity-related distress in a sample of terminally ill patients.
Methods: A randomized, controlled trial was conducted with 64 terminally ill patients who were randomly assigned to the intervention group (DT + standard palliative care) or the control group (standard palliative care alone). The primary outcome measures were Meaning, Peace, and Faith whereas the secondary outcome measures were (loss of) Meaning and purpose, Distress and coping ability, Existential distress, Psychological distress, and Physical distress. All measures were assessed at baseline (before the intervention), 7-10 and 15-20 days after the baseline assessment. The trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (Protocol Record NCT04256239).
Results: The MANOVA yielded a significant effect for the Group X Time interaction. ANOVA with repeated measures showed a significant effect of time on peace and a significant Group X Time interaction effect on peace. Post hoc comparisons revealed that, while there was a decrease in peace from pre-treatment to follow-up and from post-treatment to follow-up in the control group, there was no such trend in the intervention group. Discussion: This study provides initial evidence that patients in the DT intervention maintained similar levels of peace from pre-test to follow-up, whereas patients in the control group showed a decrease in peace during the same time period. We did not find significant longitudinal changes in measures of meaning, faith, loss of meaning and purpose, distress and coping ability, existential, psychological and physical distress. The findings of our study are of relevance in palliative care and suggest the potential clinical utility of DT, since they offer evidence for the importance of this intervention in maintaining peace of mind for terminally ill patients.
BACKGROUND: Dignity is an inherent value in palliative care, but understanding dignity among people living with and hospitalized for incurable esophageal cancer has not been explored.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to empirically explore the meaning of dignity in people hospitalized with incurable esophageal cancer.
METHODS: A qualitative hermeneutic approach, inspired by Gadamer, guided the research process and interpretation of the transcribed interviews. Eighteen patients participated in the study.
RESULTS: The meaning of dignity was revealed as reverential response in care relationships and eating as an undignifying activity. A balance of the healthcare system's framework with the lifeworld of the patient was significant in preserving dignity and gave patients a sense of reverent response. Patients were unable to eat ordinary daily meals, which affected their perception of own body and identity, including interactions with others. The resulting bodily changes and social consequences were of crucial importance to the perceived dignity.
CONCLUSIONS: A dialogical and understanding approach is significant in making the patient feel worthy, consequently helping to uphold a sense of dignity. The changing and decaying body due to eating difficulties bears witness to illness, altering the individual's sense of self, in turn threatening the dignity of identity.
IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE: The care should be based on a reverential response based on the patients' lifeworld. In doing so, storytelling might be a way. Palliative care for these people needs to stress that patients share other aspects of life that is not totally dominated by their illness, inability to eat, and unrecognizable body.
Research results suggest that illness can undermine patients' dignity and that dignity can be understood as an experience formed in communion with others. The aim of this study was, therefore, to illuminate the meanings of lived experiences of dignity as an intersubjective phenomenon from the perspective of dyads in palliative care. The authors analyzed transcripts from interviews with nine dyads using a phenomenological-hermeneutical method. Within the contexts of the dyadic relationship and the dyadic-health care professional relationship, the authors' interpretation revealed two meanings based on the participants' lived experiences: "Being available," related to responding and being responded to in terms of answerability and we-ness, and "Upholding continuity," linked to feeling attached through the maintenance of emotional bonds and being connected through upholding valued activities and qualities in daily living. The authors further reflected on the meanings in relation to philosophically grounded concepts such as presence, objectification, dependence, and dyadic body.
Fifteen years ago, Ruth Macklin shook the medical community with her claim in the BMJ that dignity is a useless concept. Her essay provoked a storm of reactions. What have we learned from the debate? In this article I analyse the responses to her essay and the following debate to investigate whether she was right that “[d]ignity is a useless concept in medical ethics and can be eliminated without any loss of content.” While some of the commentaries misconstrued her claim and argue against strawmen, others forcefully maintained that the concept of dignity has functions beyond “respect for persons and their autonomy.” One important point that came out of the debate is that dignity is a generic concept that covers more ground than “respect for persons or their autonomy.” In particular, dignity seems to have a wide range of protective functions as well as having reciprocal, relational, and social aspects. Dignity appears more attributional and norm-formative than respect for persons and autonomy. While the claim that dignity is unclear, vague, and can be used sloganistically seems highly relevant, it is argued that this vagueness fulfils important functions in ethics. Moreover, dismissing dignity because of its lack of clarity has implications for “respect for persons” and “autonomy,” which are also used vaguely and sloganistically. No doubt medical ethics should use as a clear concept as the context requires. Nonetheless, dignity still seems to be a widely used generic concept in ethical debates and doing as much ethical work as “respect for persons” or “respect for autonomy.” Therefore, the death of dignity seems to be greatly exaggerated.
In 2017 and 2018, the English courts were asked to decide whether continued life-sustaining treatment was in the best interests of three infants: Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans and Isaiah Haastrup. Each infant had sustained catastrophic, irrecoverable brain damage. Dignity played an important role in the best interests assessments reached by the Family division of the High Court in each case. Multiple conceptions of dignity circulate, with potentially conflicting implications for infants such as Charlie, Alfie and Isaiah. The judgements do not explicate the conceptions of dignity upon which they rely. This article reconstructs the conceptions of dignity invoked in these judgements, finding that a broadly Kantian, agential conception dominates, under which human dignity requires the prospect of agency. This conception is situated within the broader body of thought on dignity, and the potentially adverse implications of applying the reconstructed conception in best interests assessments for infants with severely restricted consciousness are discussed.