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Patients' priorities in a reminiscence and legacy intervention in palliative care

Journal title
Palliative care and social practice
Publication year
Hesse, M.; Forstmeier, S.; Ates, G.; Radbruch, L.

BACKGROUND: Reminiscence is used in a range of different interventions in palliative care, for example, Dignity Therapy or Life Review. However, literature has focused mainly on the methodology, and little has been published on patients' priorities and primary concerns. OBJECTIVE: This study looks at themes emerging in a reminiscence intervention with patients confronted with a life-limiting disease. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. SETTING/SUBJECTS: Seventeen patients who were receiving palliative care at the University Hospital Bonn participated in interviews reviewing parts or phases of their lives. RESULTS: Patients expressed satisfaction and a sense of well-being with the intervention. Major themes emerging in the interviews were the factors involved in the development and expression of personality, such as character-forming influences, self-image, self-awareness, and philosophy of life. Talking about personality was entangled with influences from growing up, qualification/job, partner/spouse, children, resources, twists of fate/crossroads, and coping. CONCLUSION: The topics emerging from the interviews differed from the scope of guiding questions in common reminiscence methods like Life Review or Dignity Therapy. The underlying motivation of patients seemed to be the search for identity and continuity in one's life.

Research abstracts