In the struggles with death, doctors are not alone

Different works have identified doctors' difficulty in dealing with human death, but such difficulties would be associated with broader and more collective forms of handling this theme. This research aimed at exploring this perspective and investigated professionals who were not in the health area. Two groups, from the Brazilian States of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, were interviewed on their views and attitudes concerning the theme. All the interviewees were aged between 50 and 60 years, had similar socioeconomic, cultural and educational background (university degree) and none of them had worked in the health field. The research had an exploratory nature and used the Collective Subject Discourse - CSD, which is based on the theory of social representation, for the methodological analysis. The results indicated both local and gender differences. The group from Minas Gerais included family and friendship ties as elements of quality of life. Among women (from both States) there were frequent references to family elements such as father, mother, grandmother and aunt. On the whole, both groups expressed a general pattern: they prefer not to think about death, and they would rather think about quality of life in order to age well. Even though talking about aging brings in relevant reflections, the difficulty in talking about death was also revealed in this displacement. Both doctors and the investigated professionals are facing the anguish that is favored by the theme.

Religious Beliefs; Human Finitude; Doctors; Death; Quality Of Life; Aging


Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo. Associação Paulista de Saúde Pública. Av. dr. Arnaldo, 715, Prédio da Biblioteca, 2º andar sala 2, 01246-904 São Paulo - SP - Brasil, Tel./Fax: +55 11 3061-7880 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
E-mail: saudesoc@usp.br