6. Autonomy and the Patient Experience

In this section, we will continue the previous case example and explore the palliative patient’s perspective.


Attitudes of paternalism toward seniors or vulnerable patients can extend to family and friends: “We mustn’t let Mom do too much – she’s weak, she’s dying. We’ll do everything for her so she can save her strength.” While this may be well-meaning, removing or limiting independence causes deep distress to many palliative patients and can lead to emotional withdrawal. This issue can also cause conflict between family members who have differing opinions on how best to support the individual. While being sensitive to the sadness and stress families are experiencing, we must continue to advocate for our patients by encouraging relatives to respect their autonomy.

In the following videos, consider elements of communication and other factors that would contribute to patient satisfaction in end of life care.



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