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Practices in Human Dignity in Palliative Care: A Qualitative Study

Akin Korhan, Esra, PhD; Üstün, Çağatay, MD; Uzelli Yilmaz, Derya, PhD

doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000252

Respecting and valuing an individual's existential dignity forms the basis of nursing and medical practice and of nursing care. The objective of the study was to determine the approach to human dignity that nurses and physicians have while providing palliative care. This qualitative study was performed using a phenomenological research design. In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted in 9 nurses and 5 physicians with human dignity approach in palliative care. Following the qualitative Colaizzi method of analyzing the data, the statements made by the nurses and physicians during the interviews were grouped under 8 categories. Consistent with the questionnaire format, 8 themes and 43 subthemes of responses were determined describing the human dignity of the nurse and the physicians. The results of the study showed that in some of the decisions and practices of the nurses giving nursing care and physicians giving medical care to palliative care patients, while they displayed ethically sensitive behavior, on some points, they showed approaches that violated human dignity and showed lack of awareness of ethical, medical, and social responsibilities.

Faculty of Health Science, Department of Nursing, İzmir Katip Çelebi University, Çiğli- İzmir, Turkey (Drs Korhan and Yilmaz); and Faculty of Medicine, Department of History of Medicine and Medical Ethics, Ege University, Bornova-İzmir, Turkey (Dr Üstün).

Correspondence: Derya Uzelli Yilmaz, PhD, Faculty of Health Science, Department of Nursing, İzmir Katip Çelebi University, 35580 Çiğli- İzmir, Turkey (

The study was approved by the appropriate ethics and governance committees. Researchers obtained permission from the palliative care department of the hospital and from the nurses and physicians who agreed to participate in the research. All participants were given verbal information about the study. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants. Ethical considerations of the present research included obtaining the informed consent of the participants to participate in the study, recording their interviews anonymously, and respecting confidentiality of their transcriptions, personal secrets, and other related information. The participants were assured that they could leave the research at any stage.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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