Diversity in Representations and Voices of Terminally Ill People in End-of-Life Documentaries

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Hakola , O 2021 , ' Diversity in Representations and Voices of Terminally Ill People in End-of-Life Documentaries ' , Journal of Palliative Care , vol. 37 , no. 2 , pp. 190-196 . https://doi.org/10.1177/08258597211013961

Title: Diversity in Representations and Voices of Terminally Ill People in End-of-Life Documentaries
Author: Hakola, Outi
Contributor organization: Department of Cultures
Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ)
Date: 2021-05-03
Language: eng
Number of pages: 7
Belongs to series: Journal of Palliative Care
ISSN: 0825-8597
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/08258597211013961
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/346603
Abstract: Background: The 21st century has seen a proliferation of end-of-life documentary films and television documentaries that contribute to building a public image of hospice and palliative care. The way in which terminally ill patients are represented in these documentaries creates impressions of who is welcomed to receive end-of-life care. These documentary representations have not been previously mapped. Methods: Using quantitative content analysis, I analyzed 35 contemporary Western documentaries and studied their diversity in the representations. I focused on terminally ill patients who are given time and space in the narration to voice their views about the end-of-life process. I paid attention to such elements as gender, race and ethnicity, age, class, religion and sexuality. Results: The documentaries welcomed the representations and voices of terminally ill people. Class, religion and sexuality often had a marginal role in narration. The gender diversity of the representations was quite balanced. Regarding age, the documentaries preferred stories about working age patients for dramatic purposes, yet all age groups were represented. However, the documentaries had an identifiable racial and ethnic bias. With a few exceptions, terminally ill who had a personal voice in the narrations were white. In comparison, racial and ethnic minorities were either absent from most of the documentaries, or their role was limited to illustrations of the general story. Conclusions: End-of-life documentaries provide identifiable access to the patients’ experiences and as such they provide emotionally and personally engaging knowledge about hospice and palliative care. While these representations are people-oriented, they include racial disparities and they focus mostly on the experiences of white terminally ill patients. This bias reinforces the misleading image of hospice and palliative care as a racialized healthcare service.
documentary film
equality &amp
hospice care
palliative care
race and ethnicity
terminally Ill
316 Nursing
518 Media and communications
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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