Public attitudes to death and dying in the UK: a review of published literature

Karen Cox, Lydia Bird, Antony Arthur, Sheila Kennedy, Kristian Pollock, Arun Kumar, Wendy Stanton, Jane Seymour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Public attitudes are important in shaping public policy and the political will that determines future service provision. They also help to identify priorities for public education. This paper presents a review and synthesis of published literature on public attitudes to death and dying in the UK from 1990.

Method The approach to the review was systematic and involved searching for published research in five databases combined with reviewing references proposed by experts in the field and following up relevant citations from identified sources. The selected sources were assessed by the review team and analysed using a thematic approach.

Results The review identified 22 sources reporting 19 studies which met our criteria for inclusion in the descriptive analysis. Three descriptive themes were identified: preferences relating to death and dying, attitudes to euthanasia and attitudes to life-sustaining treatments and interventions.

Conclusion The review outcomes challenge widespread assumptions about public attitudes to death and dying and identify the need for more rigorous work to better understand public views on dying and death. Such work is needed if public health services are to meet the expectations and reflect the wishes of individuals in this area in future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Supportive & Palliative Care
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013

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