Metas de Enfermería

Metas de Enfermería

ABRIL 2019 N° 3 Volumen 22

Dignity in patients at the end of their life in Emergencies: the family perspective

Section: Originals

How to quote

Gutiérrez Ibáñez A. Dignidad en pacientes al final de la vida en urgencias: perspectiva de la familia. Metas Enferm abr 2019; 22(3):58-65.


Álvaro Gutiérrez Ibáñez


Enfermero. Becario de Investigación de la Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud de la Universidad de Granada. Grupo de Investigación Biosanitario (BIO277)

Contact address

Álvaro Gutiérrez Ibáñez. C/ Pérez Carrillo, 36. 18650 Dúrcal (Granada).


Objective: to explore and describe the experiences of relatives of palliative care patients regarding the maintenance and loss of dignity in end-of-life care at the Hospital Emergency Unit.
Method: a qualitative phenomenologic-hermeneutic study, conducted between February and May, 2018. The study population consisted in first-degree relatives of patients with terminal conditions who had attended some Hospital Emergency Unit during the last six months, and who were receiving care at the time of conducting the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, with intentional sampling until saturation of discourse. Content analysis was conducted using the Atlas.ti software in order to identify any emerging issues.
Results: twelve (12) interviews were conducted with relatives; the discourse revolved around loss of dignity. Two main issues were identified regarding loss of dignity at end-of-life care in the Emergency Unit: problems associated with the Hospital Unit, and problems associated with the Hospital Unit professionals.
Conclusion: the dignity of persons in palliative care programs using the Emergency Unit was undermined by the specific characteristics of said unit, and by the attitudes of professionals regarding care provided to patients. Relatives won’t usually demand any differentiated care for their loved ones due to the fact of being terminal patients, but complain about loss of dignity.


dignity; palliative care; Emergency Care Units; family; qualitative research

Versión en Español


Dignidad en pacientes al final de la vida en urgencias: perspectiva de la familia