'Scripts’ for dying at home—displayed in nurses', patients’ and relatives’ talk


  • Maura Hunt PhD MPhil RGN RM RHV RHVT

    Corresponding author
    1. Formerly Regional Nursing Research Liaison Officer, South East Thames Regional Health Authority, London, England (now retired)
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Dr M Hunts Rockcliffe village Blackrock Cork Ireland


Perceptions and expectations reflecting what constitutes a ‘good’ death that seem to exist in Western societies are explored and compared with those presented by five symptom control team nurses at their home visits to 54 terminally ill cancer patients These perceptions and expectations are termed ‘scripts’ for dying and are derived from the nurses', patients’ and relatives’ audio-recorded conversations over a 3-month period The elements of the ‘scripts’ used were identified as (a) control of physical symptoms, (b) acceptance of cancer and its prognosis, (c) preservation of hope and ‘will to live’, (d) mobility and ‘fighting back’, (e) enjoyment of life, (f) a peaceful death at home How these components are determined from the conversations are presented and the responses of the patients to the nurses’‘scripts’ are analysed The dilemmas created by putting the ‘scripts’ into action for nurses, patients and relatives are discussed