Diminishing Drinking at the End of Life: A Concept Analysis

Annie Pettifer, Sean Hughes, Katherine Froggatt

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background and Aim
Most dying people drink less and often cease drinking. Supporting family members who witness this can be challenging for healthcare professionals. A literature review of family members’ experiences of this process has shown multiple terms that describe concepts relating to it. However, there is a no agreed term specific and meaningful for clinicians and family members alike. A conceptual analysis of diminishing drinking was undertaken to explore how it was understood in the past and could be conceptualised in future.

Design, methods and approach taken
Rodgers’ evolution method (2000) was used to analyse the concept of diminishing drinking. This inductive analysis method focuses on how concepts have developed dynamically over time and within contexts to indicate direction for future research and practice.

CINAHL and Medline databases were searched using free text terms for ‘diminishing drinking’ and synonyms. Hand and pearl searches were also conducted and all types of indexed literature included. Sampling ensured all geographical and professional domains were represented: N=30 papers. Findings were analysed to identify further surrogate terms, antecedents, attributes, examples and consequences of the ways diminishing drinking has been conceptualised.

Several terms are used to describe diminishing drinking in the literature including: dehydration, declining hydration, oral intake and nourishment. These terms describe concepts that both include or overlap with diminishing drinking. ‘Terminal dehydration’ is identified as the foundational concept. Professionals and families use different terms reflecting their foci of concern. A conceptual typology of diminishing drinking is proposed.

Different understandings of the terms around diminishing drinking held between professionals and families may shape communication between the two groups. The proposed conceptual typology may aid communication between professional and family caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2019
Event16th World Congress of the European Association of Palliative Care - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 23 May 201925 May 2019
Conference number: 16


Conference16th World Congress of the European Association of Palliative Care
Abbreviated titleEAPC 2019
Internet address


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