Chinese-Singaporean's Perceptions of a Good Death

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Desley G. Hegney, RN, BA, (Hons), PhD
School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, Australia
Tuck Wai Chan, MBA
Institutional Review Board, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand how culture and religion influence Chinese Singaporean people's attitude to a "good death"

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to provide appropriate cultural support and understand the religious needs of dying person and their family.

Purpose: The study aimed to explore the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of Chinese people living in Singapore on issues surrounding death, dying and the end of life.

Methods: Audiences attending a lecture of "Good Life, Good Death" were each given a survey form to be filled in and collected prior to the lecture. A total of 200 survey forms were distributed and 100 were collected (50% participation rate).  The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the National University of Singapore.  Data were then transcribed verbatim and Taylor's (2006) thematic analysis was undertaken.

Results: The results revealed the end of life associated issues included the themes of denial of death, fear of dying, uncertainity of death and the afterlife, being peaceful, ready and free from suffering, and possible ways to a good death. Most of the latter theme consisted of cultural and religious practices.

Conclusion: The data obtained in this study revealed issues relating to end of life to be a major concern.  Most of the respondents did not believe that there was sufficient support from health professionals to ensure their preparation for a death that was free from suffering. It is importatnt to understand the views and perceptions of people regarding death and dying to allow adequate person-centered and culturally appropriate care to be given.  A recommendation is that thanatological education and discussions amonst nurses and other health professionals occur to help them help those they care for to gain a better understanding of death and dying, and to help them prepare for a good death both for themselves and their loved ones.