Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Communication

Major Professor

Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D.

Keywords

Health, Ethnography, Narrative, Ethics, Mortality

Abstract

Hospices use interdisciplinary teams to aid patients and families as they cope with the imminence of death while helping them achieve a death free of physical and spiritual pain, also known as a good death. This study investigated the communication between hospice team members and their patients regarding spirituality, dying, death and a good death. Through 300 hours of participant observation and interviews with hospice staff at one large not-for-profit hospice in the Southeastern United States this project shows that team members understand patient's spirituality through a religious frame potentially compromising spiritual care. Talk between patients and their care team rarely focuses on what constitutes a good death and team members eventually come to narrate all hospice deaths as good.

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