The Lancet: Why talking about dying matters

28 October, 2018

Below are the citation and extracts of an editorial in this week's print Lancet. The editorial refers to the UK's National Health Service, and the importance of choice (especially for those with a terminal illness) on how and where to die. How can healthcare professionals worldwide be more effective when talking about dying, in different cultures, contexts and low-resource settings?

CITATION: Editorial volume 392, issue 10157, p1488, october 27, 2018

Why talking about dying matters

The Lancet

Published: October 27, 2018 DOI:

'There are several conversations in life that are inherently difficult. Talking about the end of your life and confronting your mortality when faced with a terminal diagnosis is likely to be at the top of the list. On Oct 19, the UK's Royal College of Physicians published the report: Talking about dying: How to begin honest conversations about what lies ahead. Based on extensive consultations with doctors, patients, and health-care professionals, the report highlights that physicians need to initiate honest conversations with their patients about their future care and treatment much earlier than after diagnosis of a progressive or terminal condition, including frailty. Furthermore, these conversations should be conducted with compassion and respect...

'A better death means more dignity, more symptom control, and more choice on how to die and where to die, and gives bereaved families a better experience of death. To avoid talking about dying jeopardises these benefits.'


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: