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Type: Journal article
Title: On the emotional connection of medical specialists dealing with death and dying: a qualitative study of oncologists, surgeons, intensive care specialists and palliative medicine specialists
Author: Zambrano Ramos, S.
Chur-Hansen, A.
Crawford, G.
Citation: BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, 2012; 2(3):270-275
Publisher: BMJ Group
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 2045-435X
Statement of
Sofia Carolina Zambrano, Anna Chur-Hansen and Brian Crawford
Abstract: OBJECTIVES: This paper reports on qualitative data exploring the experiences and coping mechanisms of medical specialists from the specialties of intensive care, surgery, oncology and palliative care, when dealing with death and dying and their emotional connection with dying patients in the context of a life-threatening illness. METHODS: Thirty-three semi-structured individual interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: One of the key themes of medical specialists' experiences with death and dying was their ambivalence about developing emotional connections with patients and families. Advantages of not engaging emotionally with patients were related to preserving objectivity in the decision making process, while a perceived disadvantage was the loss of the opportunity to engage in meaningful relationships that could positively influence patients, families and the medical specialist. Finding a balance in the face of ambivalence was a preferred approach and participants employed a variety of coping strategies. CONCLUSIONS: Participants took different positions about the emotional connection that should develop with their dying patients and their families. Although there was agreement about finding a balance between objectivity and connection, their strategies for achieving this seem to be subjective and prescribed by individual notions. By sharing perspectives and learning how other colleagues deal with similar issues, there is an opportunity for medical practitioners to develop a well-rounded approach to dealing with death and dying, which may enhance personal and professional relationships and may ultimately influence future generations of medical practitioners.
Keywords: Humans; Death; Intensive Care; Palliative Care; Adaptation, Psychological; Attitude of Health Personnel; Social Distance; Emotions; Empathy; Family; Adult; Middle Aged; Physicians; Female; Male; Surgeons; Palliative Medicine
Rights: Copyright © 2013 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
RMID: 0020124116
DOI: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000208
Appears in Collections:Medicine publications

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