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P-13 Dying through the looking glass-media influences on death and dying
  1. Joanne Atkinson,
  2. Monique Lhussier and
  3. Susan Carr
  1. Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Submitted for Professional Doctorate awarded, subject to amendments.

This research contributes to the professional understanding of the contextual conditions that exist in end of life care. Using a Foucauldian lens, this research explores the apparatus and technologies of power at play and considers the impact of mainstream media on discursive practice in end of life care. Mass media campaigns have had a significant impact on end of life care, developing a sense of scandal and moral panic amongst the population. This research highlights the tensions, challenges and possibilities that emerge from the intersection between media and healthcare practice.

Foucauldian discourse analysis has provided a philosophical lens through which to view this research and explore the professional contexts in which we operate. Collection and analysis of media artefacts from journalistic press in the form of broadsheet newspapers and terrestrial television (factual outputs) were undertaken. In addition, self-recorded narratives from nine healthcare professionals working in end of life care were transcribed and analysed.

The findings from this research have given rise to discourses that have been aligned to specific domains of understanding – technologies. Technologies enable us to highlight the way in which structures and functions within political and social institutions can manipulate populations or individuals, or indeed how power can shape human conduct. The technologies are: technologies of caring; technologies of power; technologies of self; and technologies of representation and professional apparatus.

The mainstream media influences discursive practice in end of life care; therefore, professionals need an appreciation of how they might deal with the challenges and opportunities posed. Exposing dying and the discursive formations in this research offers a novel insight into how healthcare professionals are not immune to, but are part of, the influences that mediate how care is delivered at the end of life; how, indeed the media can have such a strong influence on perceptions and understanding.

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