Quality of life considered as well-being: views from philosophy and palliative care practice.
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SourceTheoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 26, 4, (2005), pp. 307-337
Article / Letter to editor
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Ethics, Philosophy, History of Medical Sciences
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
SubjectEBP 4: Quality of Care; NCEBP 5: Health care ethics
The main measure of quality of life is well-being. The aim of this article is to compare insights about well-being from contemporary philosophy with the practice-related opinions of palliative care professionals. In the first part of the paper two philosophical theories on well-being are introduced: Sumner's theory of authentic happiness and Griffin's theory of prudential perfectionism. The second part presents opinions derived from interviews with 19 professional palliative caregivers. Both the well-being of patients and the well-being of the carers themselves are considered in this empirical exploration. In the third part the attention shifts from the description of "well-being" to prescriptions for the promotion of well-being. Our interview data are analysed in light of the theories of Sumner and Griffin for clues to the promotion of "well-being." The analysis (1) underscores the subject-relativity of well-being, (2) points out that values that are considered important in every life still seem to be relevant (at least in palliative care practice), and (3) shows the importance of living a certain sort of life when aiming to enhance dying patients' well-being.
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