Qualitative observation in a clinical setting: Challenges at end of life

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This paper explores the methodological challenges associated with undertaking qualitative observation in the clinical setting at end of life. The authors reflect on their experiences of using non-participant observation to explore the nursing care delivered to dying patients in acute hospital wards. The challenges of observation as a method, clearly defining the participant group and involving vulnerable populations, such as the dying patients and their families, will be discussed. Consideration is also given to defining and working within the observational field, the researchers' dual roles, cost versus benefit, impact of culture, religion and ethnicity, and the determination of research limits/boundaries, with reflections from the authors' own experiences used to exemplify the issues.

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