Hospice or home? Expectations of end-of-life care among white and Chinese older people in the UK

Sociol Health Illn. 2007 Sep;29(6):872-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.01045.x.


This paper presents findings from two linked studies of white (n = 77) and Chinese (n = 92) older adults living in the UK, which sought their views about end-of-life care. We focus particularly on experiences and expectations in relation to the provision of end-of-life care at home and in hospices. White elders perceived hospices in idealised terms which resonate with a 'revivalist' discourse of the 'good death'. In marked comparison, for those Chinese elders who had heard of them, hospices were regarded as repositories of 'inauspicious' care in which opportunities for achieving an appropriate or good death were limited. They instead expressed preference for the medicalised environment of the hospital. Among both groups these different preferences for instututional death seemed to be related to shared concerns about the demands on the family that may flow from having to manage pain, suffering and the dying body within the domestic space. These concerns, which appeared to be based on largely practical considerations among the white elders, were expressed by Chinese elders as beliefs about 'contamination' of the domestic home (and, by implication, of the family) by the dying and dead body.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Death*
  • China / ethnology
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Hospice Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • United Kingdom
  • White People / psychology*