Hospice Care: Between Existential and Medical Hope

Vibeke Graven*, Anders Petersen, Helle Ussing Timm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Medicalisation of hospice care has been discussed simultaneously with the development of palliative care into a medical speciality. However empirical knowledge of the role of medicalisation in hospice practice is underexplored. This paper considers hospice managers’ perspectives on hospice care in the complex between values related to hospice philosophy and a specialised medical approach to hospice care. Focus groups and small group interviews were conducted with hospice managers from 16 out of the 19 Danish hospices. Drawing on hope as a theoretical framework, the study contributes to further understanding of the complexity of navigating hospice care in the impasse between an existential hope focused on meaning at the end of life and a medical hope for control of the dying body. Hospice care appeared as pulled between these dimensions of hope. The hospice managers took a pragmatic approach to medicalisation but their emphasis on dying as an existential event also points to a role for hospices as a critical voice against over-medicalisation of dying.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)326-342
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Hospice
  • existential
  • hope
  • hospice care
  • hospice philosophy
  • medicalisation


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