WATTS T. (2012) European Journal of Cancer Care21, 20–30, End-of-life care pathways as tools to promote and support a good death: a critical commentary
This paper calls into question whether and how end-of-life care pathways facilitate the accomplishment of a ‘good death’. Achieving a ‘good death’ is a prominent social and political priority and an ideal which underpins the philosophy of hospice and palliative care. End-of-life care pathways have been devised to enhance the care of imminently dying patients and their families across care settings and thereby facilitate the accomplishment of a ‘good death’. These pathways have been enthusiastically adopted and are now recommended by governments in the UK as ‘best practice’ templates for end-of-life care. However, the literature reveals that the ‘good death’ is a nebulous, fluid concept. Moreover, concerns have been articulated regarding the efficacy of care pathways in terms of their impact on patient care and close analysis of two prominent end-of-life pathways reveals how biomedical aspects of care are privileged. Nonetheless drawing on a diverse range of evidence the literature indicates that end-of-life care pathways may facilitate a certain type of ‘good death’ and one which is associated with the dying process and framed within biomedicine.