Background A living will allows patients to express their own wishes for treatment in advance and make them legally mandatory for physicians’ as well as relatives’ care. Conceptions of autonomy, vulnerability, responsibility, and care as well as corresponding personal experiences build the background of such anticipative decision-making.
Aim From May 2015 on the project, as a part of the interdisciplinary Bavarian research group ForGenderCare, will study the role of gender-specific beliefs and perceptions of autonomy, responsibility and vulnerability in anticipative decision-making in the final phase of life.
Taking the German debate about living wills as an example, the project aims at exposing and comparing patterns of argumentation in the medico-ethical professional literature, advice literature and the media, among professional advisors and the population in Bavaria. The poster will present the project outline including hypotheses and preliminary results.
Methods Debates on living wills take place at different levels. Therefore, platform-adapted methodologies have to be developed including desk analysis, qualitative interviews with professionals, group discussions with families, standardised content analyses of mass media, and qualitative content analyses of relevant online platforms.
Relevance and practical aim The project will develop personalised counselling-models for planning living wills.
Discussion As human existence oscillates between autonomy and dependence, we analyse four public and private areas that contribute to the current discussions in different ways: a) within the academia, b) in hospitals, c) in families, d) in mass media and also in specialised internet platforms. This holistic approach allows a deeper understanding of the debates on living wills in times of medicalization of life.
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