Existential Sensitivity and Life Quality in Pallitative Care

Niels Viggo Hansen has received grant from IMK Almene Fond for new research project

2017.05.05 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

A project in practical philosophy, action research and “contemplative group dynamics”

Optimizing treatment for individuals is a growing issue as palliative treatment grows more complex and follows many other goals beside pain management. But how can palliative care truly make a positive difference for individual patients? We pursue this question with a new method of supporting “existential sensitivity” in a specialized, cross-disciplinary team of physicians, therapists and caregivers – facilitation the team’s discovery, sharing and articulation of what is important in the individual patient’s experience. This is a crucial condition for a combined treatment well suited to the needs, values and resources of the patient.

In a modern busy hospital, existential sensitivity is not a given thing in spite of many good intentions. But our previous descriptive-qualitative appear to show that existential sensitivity – or its absence – is something that can be a characteristic of an institution and a team – a shared “spirit” and mode of working. Therefore, it may be possible to improve patient outcomes if this characteristic can be supported or cultivated.

A model of cooperation – and particularly, of introducing “contemplative group dynamics” in staff meetings - will be developed in a series of action resarch cycles with a palliative team at the Royal Hospital in Copenhagen whose work we have been following in a series of qualitative studies of existential dimensions of patient and caregiver experience. The initial model is based on a number of particularly satisfying “best cases” as well as interviews on what was missing in less satisfying cases. The final model may include elements of mindfulness training and/or contemplation based in Christian and other religious traditions in a secular / multicultural context.

In a second phase of the project, the model will be described and operationalized as a training course that can be offered to palliative teams in other hospitals / institutions.

The study will be conducted in cooperation between Niels Viggo Hansen (IMC), Per Sjøgren (head of the Palliative Research Unit at the Royal Hospital, Copenhagen) and Andreas Roepstorff (IMC)

Contact:

Postdoc Niels Viggo Hansen, School of Culture and Society, IMC.

http://www.nielsviggo.net/

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