Intended for healthcare professionals


Researching a good death

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 08 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:485
  1. Stephen Workman, associate professor
  1. Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, 1278 Tower Road Site, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 3S9
  1. stephen.workman{at}

    Raises difficult issues, but many patients are keen to participate

    In this week's BMJ, a qualitative study by Kendall and colleagues assesses the challenges in conducting research in people nearing the end of life.1 The study—conducted in researchers, people with cancer, and carers—provides a landmark in a challenging area, as well as offering encouragement for future researchers. It finds that many patients do wish to participate in research, and that researchers, while appreciating the challenges of conducting research in this area, think that it is no more demanding than in other areas. The study also offers potential solutions to the barriers to carrying out such research. These take the form of a useful checklist to be consulted before designing any study intended to research a good death.

    A central moral point of the study is that patients must not be paternalistically excluded from researching a good death, because research can enrich the lives of participants. This perspective reflects the work of …

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