'But isn't it depressing?' The vitality of palliative care


Webster, Judi; Kristjanson, Linda J.


A common question about palliative care from those unfamiliar with the work is, 'But isn't it depressing?' This view distances palliative care workers from the general public and reflects a deeply held belief that matters associated with death and dying are negative. Published definitions fall short of capturing a full understanding of the work, making it difficult to communicate the meaning of palliative care. This qualitative study examined the experiences of six long-term palliative care workers. Palliative care was described as 'a way of living' and, throughout the descriptions, the concept of 'vitality' emerged as the core meaning of palliative care. In the current economic environment, where there is competition for health care funding, more widespread agreement about the meaning of palliative care is important if informed decisions are to be made about allocation of resources.

Publication year


Publication type

Journal article


Journal of Palliative Care, Vol. 18, no. 1 (2002), pp. 15-24




Clinical Research Institute of Montreal


Copyright © 2002 Centre for Bioethics, IRCM.