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Jane Hopkinson, Christine Hallett
International Journal of Palliative Nursing, Vol. 8, Iss. 11, 22 Nov 2002, pp 532 - 539

The dominant professional understanding of good death is death where symptoms are controlled, the inevitability of death has been accepted and preparations have been made leading to peace for all involved. It seems surprising, in a pluralistic society, that there might be such a clear common understanding of good death. This study looks at the understandings of good death voiced by 28 staff nurses who were interviewed about their experiences of caring for dying people in hospital. The findings suggest that a nurse’s understanding of good death had elements that were shared with her colleagues, but also that there was a personal understandings of a good death. The concept of good death is perhaps a reduction that leads to an incorrect assumption of a shared understanding of the acceptable way to care for a dying person. The concept of ‘personally ideal death’ is proposed as a refinement of good death that recognises that the beliefs and values of each individual influences what they understand to be acceptable death.

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