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Death, dying and emotional labour: problematic dimensions of the bone marrow transplant nursing role?

Authors


Daniel Kelly, Directorate of Nursing and Governance, UCL Hospitals, Mortimer Street, London W1N 8AA. E-mail: daniel.kelly@uclh.org

Abstract

Death, dying and emotional labour: problematic dimensions of the bone marrow transplant nursing role?

Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is an established intervention for a range of conditions including those of a serious, life-threatening nature such as leukaemias. The experience of those who fail to respond to such aggressive treatment, however, or those who die as a result of treatment-induced complications, is currently under-researched. In this paper the authors suggest that despite the relatively high mortality associated with BMT, cultural, biological and professional factors have contributed to a lack of attention on issues of death and dying and emotional labour within BMT care settings. Current technological, biomedical and quality of life discourses which characterize much of the BMT literature are problematic and, we suggest, may serve to disadvantage those who will not survive such procedures. In addition, the provision of effective palliative care in BMT settings remains open to review through further research and development. As a first step, the authors argue that the role of nursing needs to be reconceptualized within BMT to allow key humane concerns such as suffering and the emotional labour of care to be explored and better understood.

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