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Lessons We Learned: Stories of Volunteer–Patient Communication in Hospice

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Journal of Aging and Identity


As our population ages, the questions of how to care for and communicate with the dying have become increasingly important areas for research. This study identifies hospice volunteers as both important members of the hospice team and as an underresearched source of wisdom regarding end-of-life communication. This article presents preliminary findings from a longitudinal, ethnographic study of volunteer–patient relationships in hospice. Three themes related to volunteer–patient communication are described using stories from hospice volunteers. The article concludes with reflections on end-of-life communication as experienced by the volunteers, and suggests that narrative ethnography is an appropriate and effective research method for the study of hospice and end-of-life care.

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Correspondence to Elissa Foster.

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Foster, E. Lessons We Learned: Stories of Volunteer–Patient Communication in Hospice. Journal of Aging and Identity 7, 245–256 (2002).

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