, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 103-113
Date: 17 Nov 2012

Personhood and communication at the end of life

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Drawing on over 300 h of fieldwork with one hospice team, this essay explores issues of personhood at the end of life, by focusing on one patient’s experience. This essay uses a narrative approach and exams the role of communication in enabling or constraining a dying person’s dignity, autonomy, and beliefs. In addition to describing the use of narrative methods in social science and medicine, this manuscript defines personhood, and explains the link between communication and personhood. The analysis of the narrative illustrates the ways healthcare workers can communicate to support a person’s sense of self until he or she dies.