Specialist palliative care staff’s varying experiences of talking with people with intellectual disability about their dying and death: A thematic analysis of in-depth interviews

New

Author(s)
Baby Foo, Michele Y Wiese, Bernadette Curryer, Roger Stancliffe, Nathan Wilson, Josephine Clayton

Description

Background: The cognitive and communication challenges experienced by people with intellectual disability present difficulties for health professionals, particularly in the face of illness and dying.

Aim: To explore the experiences of specialist palliative care staff in talking with people with intellectual disability about their dying and death, and factors that influence these conversations.

Design: An inductive thematic analysis was conducted on data from a larger qualitative semi-structured interview study.

Setting/participants: Twenty palliative care staff from health services across Australia were interviewed. Participants were employed in multidisciplinary specialist palliative care teams and had provided palliative care to dying persons with intellectual disability.

Results: Specialist palliative care staff did not consistently talk with people with intellectual disability about their dying and death. Conversations were influenced by (a) the perceived capacity of the person with intellectual disability, (b) experience and expertise of palliative care staff, (c) the relationship between palliative care staff and dying person and (d) values of palliative care staff and other caregivers (namely family members and paid carers).

Conclusions: Specialist palliative care staff experience difficulties in talking with people with intellectual disability about their dying. Development of communication guidelines, resources and training for palliative care teams are urgently required to improve palliative care for this patient group. A more comprehensive research agenda on the needs of people with intellectual disability and their caregivers in palliative care is needed, with a particular focus on strategies to effectively communicate about dying and death.

Suggested Citation

Foo, B., Wiese, M., Curryer, B., Stancliffe, R., Wilson, N., & Clayton, J. (2021). Specialist palliative care staff’s varying experiences of talking with people with intellectual disability about their dying and death: A thematic analysis of in-depth interviews. Palliative Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269216321998207

Details

Date
3/23/2021 
Type
Peer-reviewed article 
Publisher
SAGE Publications, Inc.