Autonomy is the freedom of self-rule, and it can be provided in vastly different ways depending on an individual’s wishes. Patient autonomy is an important part of patient-centred practice.
For some patients, hearing details of their terminal illness may give them an understanding of what to expect, and thereby a sense of peace. They may be comfortable making difficult decisions for themselves. For others, medical details may evoke intense panic; they may prefer not to know. Other patients may want the medical details but are so overwhelmed, they rely heavily on their medical team or family members to make important decisions for them. All of these scenarios require open communication and respect between staff and patients.
In the following video, we will introduce a palliative care case that explores the significance of autonomy and choice for patients. The purpose of this video is to facilitate reflection on the tension between our agenda as healthcare professionals and the patient’s agenda, including their hopes, needs and wishes.