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The last period of life of the very old. A pilot study evaluating the psychological autopsy method.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Scandinavian journal of caring sciences
Publication Date
Volume
3
Issue
4
Pages
177–181
Identifiers
PMID: 2602727
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

In a pilot study, the Weisman psychological autopsy was tested as a method of gaining information about the last period of life of patients age 85 and older. The main purpose for using this method is to obtain knowledge about patients' thoughts, feelings and reactions towards impending death. Twelve deceased patients were selected and the staff members who had cared for those patients were interviewed. A special guide for interviewing was followed and the interviews took place on the second or third day after death. In these twelve interviews a total of 32 staff members participated. It was shown that the staff members were well informed on issues concerning the patients daily life, health condition and medical treatment. On issues such as religious belief, perception of impending death, meaning of life and fear and joy, the staff members were mostly unaware of the patients' thoughts, feelings and reactions. The conclusion is that before using the psychological autopsy method in interviewing personnel, the level of knowledge about the patients must be tested.

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