Deathbed Etiquette – The Guide: A Qualitative Study Exploring the Views of Practitioners on its Introduction into End-of-Life Care Settings

Mette Kragh-Furbo, Maddy French, Lesley Dunleavy, Sophie Hancock, Karen Sanders, Margaret Doherty, Lancaster University

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: It is common for relatives to feel uncertain about what to expect at the bedside of a dying loved one. The Centre for the Art of Dying Well together with clinical, academic and communications experts created a ‘Deathbed Etiquette’ guide offering information and reassurance to relatives. This study explores the views of practitioners with experience in end-of-life care on the guide and how it might be used. Methods: Three online focus groups and nine individual interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 21 participants involved in end-of-life care. Participants were recruited through hospices and social media. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Discussions highlighted the importance of effective communication that normalises experiences of being by the bedside of a dying loved one. Tensions around the use of the words ‘death’ and ‘dying’ were identified. Most participants also expressed reservations about the title, with the word ‘deathbed’ found to be old-fashioned and the word ‘etiquette’ not capturing the varied experiences of being by the bedside. Overall, however, participants agreed that the guide is useful for ‘mythbusting’ death and dying. Conclusion: There is a need for communication resources that can support practitioners in having honest and compassionate conversations with relatives in end-of-life care. The ‘Deathbed Etiquette’ guide is a promising resource to support relatives and healthcare practitioners by providing them with suitable information and helpful phrases. More research is needed on how to implement the guide in healthcare settings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Palliative Care
Early online date20 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Feb 2023

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