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Research Article

Behaviour of the dying patient.

Br Med J 1975; 2 doi: (Published 12 April 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;2:81
  1. L Witzel


    One hundred and ten dying patients were studied during the 24 hours before death and 250 patients during the weeks before death: 60% were well orientated in time and space 24 hours before death and 26% at 15 minutes before death. A control group of patients with serious, but not fatal, illness were also studied. There was a contrast in attitude to death between the dying patients and the ill but not dying controls. The dying were resigned to their approaching death, experienced little or no fear, and did not wish to know about their illness, whereas the control patients wanted information about their condition and feared death, though few thought they would actually die. The relief of physical symptoms in the dying is important. There was often a brief improvement in condition, with reduced need for analgesic, shortly before death.