alexa "Am I Dying Doctor?": How End-Of-Life Care is Portrayed
ISSN: 2165-7386

Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine
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Research Article

"Am I Dying Doctor?": How End-Of-Life Care is Portrayed in Television Medical Dramas

Carmen HM Houben1*, Martijn A Spruit1,2, Emiel FM Wouters1,3 and Daisy JA Janssen1,4

1Department of Research & Education, CIRO, Horn, The Netherlands

2REVAL, Rehabilitation Research Center, BIOMED - Biomedical Research Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

3Department of Respiratory Medicine, Maastricht UMC+, Maastricht, The Netherlands

4Centre of expertise for Palliative Care, Maastricht UMC+, Maastricht, The Netherlands

*Corresponding Author:
Carmen H.M. Houben
MSc, Department of Research and Education
CIRO, Hornerheide 1, 6085 NM Horn, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 475 587602
Fax: +31 475 587592
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: January 18, 2016; Accepted date: January 22, 2016; Published date: January 25, 2016

Citation: Houben CHM, Spruit MA, Wouters EFM, Janssen DJA (2016) "Am I Dying Doctor?": How End-Of-Life Care is Portrayed in Television Medical Dramas. J Palliat Care Med 6:247. doi:10.4172/2165-7386.1000247

Copyright: © 2016 Houben CHM, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: Patient-clinician communication about end-of-life care is important for patients with chronic lifelimiting diseases and their loved ones but requires engagement from patients and loved ones. Television is a powerful medium in influencing people’s behaviour. However, it is unknown which image is sketched on television about end-of-life care communication. Objective: To explore communication about end-of-life care between healthcare professionals and patients or loved ones in popular medical dramas on television. Methods: 68 episodes of television medical drama were reviewed (22 episodes of House, 22 episodes of ER, and 24 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy). Three types of events were identified: communication between healthcare professionals and patients or loved ones about end-of-life care, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and death. Results: In total, 99 events of end-of-life care communication, 47 events of CPR, and 27 events of death were observed. Discussions about end-of-life care were mostly initiated by physicians in the presence of patients and loved ones. The most frequently addressed topics were: talking about the possibility of dying, treatment options, and life-sustaining treatments. The immediate success rate of CPR was 51.1%. Of the patients who deceased, the majority died unexpected, usually a life-prolonging treatment was performed before death, and advance directives were uncommon. Conclusion: Healthcare professionals in television medical dramas talked with patients or loved ones about endof- life. However, topics important for patients in real life were often not discussed.


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