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Happiness at the end of life: A qualitative study

, Wong Ka Ghee, Ng Yun Hui, Ooi Chieh Yin, Khoo Wei Shen Kelvin, See Toh Yiling, Tan Ai Huey, David Paul Capelle, Sheriza Izwa Zainuddin, Loh Ee Chin,
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Palliative and Supportive Care pp 1-7; doi:10.1017/s1478951521000262

Abstract: Objective Dying is mostly seen as a dreadful event, never a happy experience. Yet, as palliative care physicians, we have seen so many patients who remained happy despite facing death. Hence, we conducted this qualitative study to explore happiness in palliative care patients at the University of Malaya Medical Centre. Method Twenty terminally ill patients were interviewed with semi-structured questions. The results were thematically analyzed. Results Eight themes were generated: the meaning of happiness, connections, mindset, pleasure, health, faith, wealth, and work. Our results showed that happiness is possible at the end of life. Happiness can coexist with pain and suffering. Social connections were the most important element of happiness at the end of life. Wealth and work were given the least emphasis. From the descriptions of our patients, we recognized a tendency for the degree of importance to shift from the hedonic happiness to eudaimonic happiness as patients experienced a terminal illness. Significance of results To increase the happiness of palliative care patients, it is crucial to assess the meaning of happiness for each patient and the degree of importance for each happiness domain to allow targeted interventions.
Keywords: Happiness / Palliative care / Positive psychology / Psychosocial care / Well-being

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