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Book and Media Reviews
June 20, 2012

Dignity Therapy: Final Words for Final Days

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

Author Affiliations: Department of Emergency Medicine, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor (arbmph@umich.edu).

JAMA. 2012;307(23):2550. doi:10.1001/jama.307.23.2550

Palliative care retains the humanistic tradition in Western medicine that prioritizes the relief of human suffering and preservation of dignity among those with incurable and life-limiting diseases. Hospice and palliative medicine clinicians thus aspire to the common professional goal of becoming highly accomplished in clinical interventions that promote dignity in dying persons. The commitment to honoring human dignity when caring for the dying was perhaps best articulated by the late Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement and St Christopher's Hospice in London, in her early writings: “You matter because you are you. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”