The mismanagement of dying

McNamara, Beverley; Rosenwax, Lorna
December 2007
Health Sociology Review;Dec2007, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p373
Academic Journal
This paper reports on a recent population-based study of the last months of life of 1071 people in Western Australia who died from a chronic condition. Data was collected from death certificates and telephone interviews of primary carers who acted as proxies providing second hand accounts of the severity of the deceased person's symptoms and sources of concerns, their awareness and acceptance of dying, and experiences of the health care system. We present descriptive statistics and quotes supporting our premise that dying in Australia is largely mismanaged. We base our assertions on three themes: dying with multiple conditions and symptoms; awareness and acceptance of dying; and support during the dying process. Each theme illustrates the difficulty of self-managing complex conditions, the failure of the health care system to acknowledge this complexity, and the need for a more radical and social approach to the management of dying.


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