Existential Concerns About Death: A Qualitative Study of Dying Patients in a Danish Hospice

Lene Moestrup, Helle Ploug Hansen

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Research suggests that addressing dying patients’ existential concerns can improve their quality of life. Research on this subject from a patient perspective is missing in a Danish context.
It is argued that the patients´ existential concerns cannot be captured by Irvin Yalom’s existential psychology or Kübler-Ross’ theory about death stages. The complex concerns might be explained using Martin Heidegger’s phenomenological thinking.
We aimed to illuminate dying patients´ existential concerns about the impending death through a descriptive analysis of semi-structured interviews with 17 cancer patients in Danish hospices. The main findings demonstrated how the patients faced the forthcoming death without being anxious of death but sorrowful about leaving life. Furthermore, patients expressed that they avoided thinking about death. However, some had reconstructed specific and positive ideas about afterlife and made accurate decisions for practical aspects of their death. The patients wished to focus on positive aspects in their daily life at hospice.
It hereby seems important to have ongoing reflections and to include different theoretical perspectives when providing existential support to dying patients.
TidsskriftAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
StatusUdgivet - 2015


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