Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life
May 1, 2002

Dignity-Conserving Care—A New Model for Palliative CareHelping the Patient Feel Valued

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba, and CancerCare Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba.


Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life Section Editor: Margaret A. Winker, MD, Deputy Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2002;287(17):2253-2260. doi:10.1001/jama.287.17.2253

The basic tenets of palliative care may be summarized as the goal of helping patients to die with dignity. The term "dignity" provides an overarching framework that may guide the physician, patient, and family in defining the objectives and therapeutic considerations fundamental to end-of-life care. Dignity-conserving care is care that may conserve or bolster the dignity of dying patients. Using segments of interviews with a patient with advanced lung cancer, his wife, and his palliative care physician, this article illustrates and explores various aspects of dignity-conserving care and the model on which it is based. Dignity-conserving care offers an approach that clinicians can use to explicitly target the maintenance of dignity as a therapeutic objective and as a principle of bedside care for patients nearing death.