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December 1984

Physician Attitudes and Practices at the Time of Patient Death

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland.

Arch Intern Med. 1984;144(12):2389-2391. doi:10.1001/archinte.1984.00350220117024

A growing literature on death and dying has resulted in more open discussions among terminally ill patients, their families, and physicians. More attention has been paid to patient death in medical education. In 1980, 74% of US medical schools reported the inclusion of formal course material on death and dying in their curricula.1 The majority of this literature and instruction focuses on interactions with patients who are terminally ill. A few sources have outlined, in a theoretical manner, the physician's role at the time of patient death.2-6 Although patient death contributes to physician stress,7 there is a paucity of information available concerning common physician practices and sentiments after patient death occurs.8 A clearer understanding of these practices may allow us to develop programs to alleviate physician stress, to improve emotional support for patients' families, and to improve medical education. As a first step toward developing this

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