Awareness contexts revisited: indeterminacy in initiating discussions at the end-of-life
Article first published online: 18 APR 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 69, Issue 12, pages 2654–2664, December 2013
How to Cite
2013) Awareness contexts revisited: indeterminacy in initiating discussions at the end-of-life. Journal of Advanced Nursing 69(12), 2654–2664. doi: 10.1111/jan.12151, , & (
- Issue published online: 15 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 18 APR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 9 MAR 2013
- death and dying;
- interpersonal communication;
- nurse–patient interaction;
- nursing theory;
- palliative care;
- qualitative approach
To explore if and how information about a transition to a palliative care approach was communicated to patients recently discharged from hospital and who fulfilled standardized criteria for palliative care need.
Palliative care philosophy and, more recently, UK palliative care policy, endorse a context of ‘open’ awareness, where all parties openly acknowledge that the patient's death is approaching. The perceived benefits of making the patient aware of their prognosis encompass a variety of planning activities, which mean that death, when it occurs, is arguably more in keeping with the wishes of the patient.
A qualitative inductive interview study conducted in 2010–2011.
Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 patients and 3 family carers. All patients were identified as having palliative care needs according to standardized criteria, 3–6 months after discharge from hospital. A thematic analysis was undertaken.
Contrary to the professed ideal of ‘open’ awareness, some participants were only partially aware and others wholly unaware that they were likely to be approaching the end-of-life. Those identified as unaware were over 85. Participants displayed a reluctance to acquire knowledge which would require them to face the imminence of death.
Philosophy and policy aside, people do not always conform to the autonomy paradigm of a self-directed life followed by a self-directed death.