Media Watch

2015; Volume 16, No 3, March

Media Watch: an annotated list of recent articles about palliative care in the news media and the literature

Planning for the end of life in prison

EARLY CAREER ACADEMIC NETWORK BULLETIN (Howard League for Penal Reform) | Online – January 2015 – New research currently under way at Lancaster University is investigating how palliative and end-of-life care is provided for prisoners who are likely to die from natural causes whilst still in custody. This article will explore some of the complexities inherent in providing palliative care in a prison setting, and consider some early findings from the research, which suggest ways to improve end-of-life care for this group of prisoners. End-of-life care in prisons raises a wide range of ethical, political, policy and practical questions, not least of which is whether prison can even be an appropriate setting for dying. Political decisions about sentencing policies have resulted in more people being imprisoned for longer, at a time when crime rates are falling; these changes have directly led to a rapid increase in the numbers of people dying in prison. The continuing challenge for prison staff is to ensure that those who are going to die in prison can approach the end of their lives with dignity and compassion.
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How do medical journalists treat cancer-related issues?

eCANCER | Online – Accessed 29 January 2015 – The authors sent self-administered questionnaires to 364 journalists in 82 [news] organizations who had reported on medical issues for the Japanese media, asking for their reasons for reporting on cancer-related issues and the difficulties they had faced. The most common reason for reporting on health-related issues was their personal interest in a particular issue. They mainly covered conventional therapies, healthcare policy, new therapies, and diagnosis. All of the journalists that were surveyed experienced some difficulties in reporting health issues. Significant concerns included the quality of information, social impact, lack of technical knowledge, and difficulty in understanding technical terms. Journalists commonly used personal networks, including physicians, as information sources, as well as social media (e.g., e-mail, Twitter and Facebook). Topic selection was biased, with 35 of 48 journalists having never reported on topics concerning hospices. Physicians were the most trusted source of information about cancer, and journalists attached high importance to interviewing them. As medical knowledge is advancing rapidly, journalists may have increasing difficulty covering cancer-related issues.
More information. N.B. English language article.

What conversations do bereaved parents remember?

JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE CARE & MEDICINE, 2015;5:202. Bereaved parents [i.e., study participants] had memories of specific conversations with healthcare professionals years following their child's death. They did not recall family meetings or technically oriented moments, but moments marked by relational aspects. Insensitivity or lack of empathy were negative themes. Empathic protectiveness, personal disclosure, and authenticity at moments in care created enduring positive memories. The findings [of this study] support the importance of humanistic involvement with patients, demonstrating the enduring impact of healthcare professionals in critical life events.
More information.

Rituals in death and dying: Modern medical technologies enter the fray

RAMBAM MAIMONIDES MEDICAL JOURNAL, 2015;6(1):1-7. Throughout human history, rites and rituals at the end of life have been important components of all societies, cultures, and religions. Until the advent of modern medicine with all its complex technologies, these activities were primarily focused on what family members and designated religious or cultural leaders brought into the process to assist and guide the dying person and his family and community through the dying process and through many defined activities to celebrate the person's life after death had occurred. Modern medicine has in many ways replaced the personal rites and rituals, the songs, chants, music, and appeal to the guiding spirits with complex medical interventions. These are often the happenings that are remembered and referred to during the after-death "celebration" of the person's life and last days, hours, and moments of death. Physicians and other healthcare professionals must become more aware – through participating in advance care planning and discussion of their patients' important values, and listening carefully to family comments during the dying period – because what may seem to them to be just part of clinical medicine can, for the family of the dying person, have a very profound and lasting effect on how they recall and recount that last and very important period of life and prologue to death.
More information.

Palliative sedation at the end of life – revised guidelines

TIDSSKRIFT FOR DEN NORSKE LEGEFORENING (The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association), 2015;135:220-221. Palliative sedation of patients at the end of life involves a number of medical, ethical and legal challenges. As a support to doctors who provide this treatment to patients who cannot be helped in any other way, the Norwegian Medical Association prepared a set of guidelines in 2001. These have now been revised and adopted by the national board in June 2014. This work and some key points in the new guidelines will be presented here.
More information.


Media Watch is intended as an advocacy and research tool. The weekly report, published by Barry R. Ashpole, a Canadian communications consultant and educator, monitors the literature and the lay press on issues specific to the quality of end-of-life care. It is international in scope and distribution. Each month, this section of the IAHPC will publish an abstract or summary of an article or report of special interest noted in a recent issue of Media Watch (see below).

The current and back issues of the weekly report.


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