Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 224--227

End-of-life practices in rural South India: SocioCultural determinants

Department of Community Medicine, PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Sudha Ramalingam
Department of Community Medicine, PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_173_18

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Introduction: End of life care of terminally ill is a sensitive topic in our socio cultural ethos. In a country where Euthanasia policies are widely debated, dignified death is a desired form of death. Euthanasia literally means “good death”. In India the debate still continues on practices related to euthanasia and its legalization until recently when the verdict on the passive euthanasia has been passed by the supreme court. In addition, lack of an effective palliative care system has led to complex situations towards the end of life. Globally, it is estimated that palliative care is needed in 40-60% of all deaths. However there is no training or facility to meet this demand. Methodology: A focus group discussion (FGD) was carried out among 22 residents in a rural area of Tamilnadu to identify the social and cultural determinants of end of life care practices. A FGD guide was prepared and after an informed consent the study was undertaken. An in depth interview was carried out among a sub group of participants. Results: The FGD and the IDI revealed several end of life practices in the rural areas such as Thalaikoothal, Feeding the ill with holy water and sand etc. The study also revealed the major determinants leading to such practices such as the social, and cultural beliefs in addition to economical and emotional factors. Conclusion: Several factors determine the end of life decisions in a family ranging from economical to social and cultural factors. While we are examining these factors, it is important to strengthen the palliative care provision in the country by building capacity and integrating it in primary care.


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