Show Less
Restricted access

Communication at the End of Life


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum, Howard Giles and Amber Worthington

Communication is at the heart of any complete understanding of the end of life. While it is true that individuals physically die as a single entity, the process of ending an individual life is located within a complex system of relationships and roles connected and constructed through communicative processes. In this volume, top scholars from numerous disciplines showcase the latest empirical investigations and theoretical advances that focus on communication at the end of life. This multi-contextual approach serves to integrate current findings, expand our theoretical understanding of the end of life, prioritize the significance of competent communication for scholars and practitioners, and provide a solid foundation upon which to build pragmatic interventions to assist individuals at the end of life as well as those who care for and grieve for those who are dying. This book is suitable for undergraduate and graduate courses in Death and Dying, Communication and Aging, Health Communication, Life Span Development, Life Span Communication, Long term care, Palliative care and Social Work.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter Six: End-of-Life Communication in Cross-Cultural Patient Care



End-OF-Life Communication IN Cross-Cultural Patient Care


While the end-of-life experience is universal, the way human beings negotiate meaning about the experience of dying is not. The thoughts, emotions, and interpersonal interactions at the end of life are very much influenced by culture. In any given set of circumstances in which people come from different cultural backgrounds, false assumptions based on one set of values will quickly lead to failed communication. This is especially true of communication at the end of life because we cannot assume shared meaning about anything as uncertain as the experience of death. When crossing cultural boundaries especially, communication is only effective when it is highly intentional (Bennett, 2013). With close attention and earnest intention, communication becomes the very thing that can bring people through a time of great uncertainty.


Coming to terms with death is a lifelong process for most human beings. Even though health care professionals deal with the uncertainty of death and dying as part of their work—sometimes daily—as human beings, they have their own unresolved fears and questions about death, and in any case, it never becomes ← 91 | 92 → easy to talk about death with their patients. It is never comfortable to give bad news, to shock and devastate with a telling of a terminal diagnosis or a death by trauma. The challenge of talking about the end...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.