A dignified last phase of life for patients with a migration background: A qualitative study

X. de Voogd*, M. G. Oosterveld-Vlug, M. Torensma, B. D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen, D. L. Willems, J. L. Suurmond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Preserving personal dignity is an important part of palliative care. Generally, autonomy, independency and not being a burden to others are emphasised for preserving dignity. Dignity has not been studied yet from the perspective of the growing group of patients with a migration background living in Western countries. Aim: To gain insight into (1) what patients – and their relatives – with a Turkish, Moroccan or Surinamese background, living in the Netherlands, in their last phase of life find important aspects of dignity, and (2) how care professionals can preserve and strengthen the dignity of these patients. Design: Qualitative thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews. Participants: A total of 23 patients and 21 relatives with a Turkish, Moroccan or Surinamese background were interviewed. Results: For respondents dignity encompassed surrender to God’s or Allah’s will and meaningful relationships with others, rather than preserving autonomy. Surrender to God or Allah meant accepting the illness, the situation and performing religious practice. A meaningful relationship meant being assisted or cared for by family members and maintaining a social role. Professionals could preserve dignity by showing respect and attention; guaranteeing physical integrity, hygiene and self-direction; and indirect communication about diagnoses and prognoses. Conclusions: Religion and appropriate involvement of family members are important aspects of dignity in the last phase of life, in addition to autonomy and independency. Care professionals need to take these factors into account in order to provide person-centred care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1385-1392
Number of pages8
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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