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Palliative care involved a specific concept of care focusing on life and optimising patient quality of life

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Q From the experiences of patients, their relatives, and their professional caregivers, what are the processes occurring within a residential palliative care unit?


Grounded theory approach within a symbolic interactionist framework.


2 residential palliative care units in Belgium.


8 patients who were admitted to the palliative care unit with terminal illness and an estimated lifespan of 3 months; 9 relatives of patients (not relatives of the patients interviewed); and 24 team members of the palliative care unit (3 doctors, 1 physiotherapist, 1 pastor, 1 social worker, 11 nurses, 1 nurses’ aide, 2 psychologists, and 4 volunteers).


Data were collected by semistructured indepth interviews lasting 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Interviews were loosely structured, using an interview guide. Data were also collected from observations of care, team meetings, and analyses of patient records. Data collection and analysis used an iterative process, and questions were added to the interview guide to explore emergent themes. Interviews and team meetings …

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  • For correspondence: Ms N Cannaerts, Palliative Support Team, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.

  • Source of funding: not stated.