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AIDS Care. 2002 Oct;14(5):587-98.

A good death: a qualitative study of patients with advanced AIDS.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


The objective of this study was to identify and describe the domains that define a "good" versus "bad" death from the perspective of patients with advanced AIDS. We analyzed qualitative data from face-to-face interviews with 35 patients with C3 AIDS. An experienced research interviewer asked the patients to describe a good and bad death. Investigators used the principles of grounded theory to analyze the interview transcripts and identify the major domains defining a "good" versus a "bad" death. We identified 15 domains, of which 12 were mentioned by at least two participants. The 12 domains include: symptoms, quality of life, people present, dying process, location, a sense of resolution, patient control of treatment, issues of spirituality, death scene, physician-assisted suicide, aspects of medical care, and acceptance of death. Within these, we identified 38 sub-categories representing specific aspects of the domains that shape a "good" versus "bad" death for the patients in this study. The identified 12 major domains encompass the major determinants of a "good" versus "bad" death from the perspective of patients with advanced AIDS. A better understanding of these domains may enable clinicians to more fully appreciate the experiences of their dying patients and identify ways to improve the care they provide at the end of life.

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