Hopeful dying? The meanings and practice of hope in palliative care family meetings.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social Science and Medicine, 2021, 291, pp. 1-9
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Hope can carry considerable allure for people facing imminent mortality and for those who care for them. Yet, how hope is variously and relationally (re)produced within end-of-life care settings, remains under-researched. In this study, we aimed to better understand hope as it circulates within palliative care, drawing on video recorded family meetings and pre- and post-meeting qualitative interviews, within two hospitals in Queensland, Australia. Our findings highlight family meetings as an important site for articulations of hope and hopefulness. The results illustrate how hope is recalibrated within the transition to and through palliative care, the tensions between hope and futility, and the work of hope in discussions of goals and expectations. Through our analysis we argue that hopefulness within family meetings, and in palliative care more broadly, is collectively produced and opens up discourses of hope to the lived experience of terminality. Attending to the nuances of hope, including moving beyond the determinative (hope for more life/hope for a quick death), can elucidate the possibilities and problems of the collective negotiation of hope at the end of life, including how hope can be drawn on to express support and solidarity.
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