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Patients with life-threatening diseases have reportedly end-of-life experiences that are perceived positively. Loved ones and healthcare personnel may mistakenly interpret the phenomena as confusion and patients can be reluctant to talk about it due to fear of ridicule. Studies addressing patients directly are scarce and there is a lack of studies from highly secular countries. The aim was to establish whether end-of-life experiences are present among patients, oriented in time, place and person and receiving palliative end-of-life care in one of the world's most secular countries. If present, examine the content and patients' subjective experiences. Qualitative design with semi-structured, in-depth interviews. 25 participants, receiving end-of-life palliative care at home or in a hospice inpatient unit. Patients were interviewed on 1-3 consecutive occasions. 16/25 patients reported end-of-life experiences of which the majority were perceived to be positive. Four themes were identified: vivid dreams while asleep, experiences while awake, references to medical circumstances and communication about end-of-life experiences. Prevalent content was deceased and living loved ones and journeys. Some patients distinguished between hallucinations/nightmares and end-of-life experiences. End-of-life experiences are present among oriented patients in a highly secular country and can have a profound positive impact, which warrants clinical attention. Education for healthcare personnel about end-of-life experiences is needed in order to support patients and loved ones and not mistakenly medicalize. Further directions for research could be to study the experiences of the phenomenon among health care personnel in the same context, which could strengthen the present findings.

Citation

Stina Nyblom, Maria Arnby, Ulla Molander, Inger Benkel. End-of-Life Experiences (ELEs) of Spiritual Nature Are Reported Directly by Patients Receiving Palliative Care in a Highly Secular Country: A Qualitative Study. The American journal of hospice & palliative care. 2020 Oct 28:1049909120969133


PMID: 33111551

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