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Article review by Dawn Drake – Writing sample 5/2008 dawn.drake@yahoo.com

Lieff, J. (1982). Eight reasons why doctors fear the elderly, chronic illness, and death. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 14(1), 47-60.

Jonathan Lieff, author of this article, holds a B.A. from Yale College and an M.D. from Harvard Medical College, and is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry (Ages Health Services Inc., 1996). When the article was published in 1982, Lieff had developed services for elderly, handicapped, and terminally ill patients in connection with the Boston Housing Authority, nursing homes, and hospitals. He had also served as Director of Geriatric Fellowship at Boston University and Chief of Geriatrics at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, a Tufts University Facility. In this paper, I summarize the article and offer comments about selected aspects, identify some relevant changes that have occurred since the article was published, and suggest areas where additional research findings would assist in understanding the current state of medical care in regard to the issues raised. Article Summary Lieff described recent (at the time of publication) research findings that indicated “widespread and well-documented prejudice” (p. 47) against elderly and terminally ill patients, and that suggested prejudice and avoidance behaviors were fostered in American medical schools. Lieff also documented benefits of © Dawn Drake, 2008

1 psychological support for dying patients and then identified and discussed eight reasons to explain the “fear” (p. 47) that he believed could explain doctors’ behaviors toward these patients. Many of his explanations reflected spiritually related problems that he believed were at the root of the issue. Lieff (1982) did note that some medical professionals, mostly not physicians (i.e., nurses, social workers, therapists, and some physicians who find personal reward in providing elder-care), countered the norm by providing more effective



References: Ages Health Services Inc. (1996). Form 10-KSB/A-1 Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Retrieved May 2, 2008, from http://www.secinfo.com—drP9x.81v.htm American Board of Medical Specialties. (2006). News release: ABMS establishes specialty certificate in hospice and palliative medicine. Retrieved April 30, 2008, from http://www.nhpco.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=5072 American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. (n.d.). Initial certification in the subspecialty of Geriatric Psychiatry. Retrieved April 30, 2008, from http://www.abpn.com/gp.htm Lieff, J. (1982). Eight reasons why doctors fear the elderly, chronic illness, and death. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 14(1), 47-60. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). (n.d.). Growth in U.S. hospice programs: 1974 to 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2008, from http://www.nhpco.org/files/public/Statistics_Research/NHPCO_facts-andfigures_Nov2007.pdf National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). (2007). NHPCO facts and figures: Hospice care in America. Retrieved April 30, 2008, from http://www.nhpco.org/files/public/Statistics_Research/NHPCO_facts-andfigures_Nov2007.pdf von Gunten, C. F., & Ferris, F. D. (2002). CAPC manual: Everything you wanted to know about establishing a palliative care program but were afraid to ask. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from http://64.85.16.230/educate/content/rationale/ushospicegrowth.html © Dawn Drake, 2008

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