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The Patient's Wish to DieResearch, Ethics, and Palliative Care$
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Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, Heike Gudat, and Kathrin Ohnsorge

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198713982

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198713982.001.0001

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The desire for hastened death in patients in palliative care

The desire for hastened death in patients in palliative care

(p.71) Chapter 7 The desire for hastened death in patients in palliative care
The Patient's Wish to Die

Rinat Nissim

Chris Lo

Gary Rodin

Oxford University Press

Research on the desire for hastened death (DHD) has important implications for improving quality of life near the end of life. Although it may be multiply determined, DHD is most often assessed in quantitative studies as a unidimensional variable. This chapter describes a mixed-methods study involving 406 ambulatory patients with advanced cancer. The incidence of DHD was assessed with the Schedule of Attitudes Toward Hastened Death, and its meaning was explored in qualitative interviews with a subset of 27 participants. DHD was found to be relatively uncommon and three distinct categories of DHD were identified in the qualitative data: DHD as a hypothetical exit plan; as an expression of despair; and as a manifestation of accepting death or ‘letting go’. A factor analysis confirmed this model. These findings suggest that the DHD has multiple meanings, which has important implications for theory, clinical intervention, and social policy.

Keywords:   desire for hastened death, schedule of attitudes toward aastened death, mixed-methods study, advanced cancer

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