Managing the secrets of dying backstage: The voices of nursing home staff

Debra Parker Oliver, Davina Porock, David B. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The project analyzed staff descriptions of undocumented care given to dying nursing home residents. Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nurse aids, and social service designees were interviewed using an unstructured interview guide. Transcripts were coded by two members of the team and a thematic analysis was guided with the theoretical framework of Erving Goffman's dramaturgical model of social interaction. Analysis of interview transcripts revealed practices related to end of life care that went undocumented. Viewed through the lens of Goffman's theoretical model, this undocumented care revealed "secrets" related to socialization processes, communication, tension, superstitions, and interactions between staff and dying residents. Findings show that while dying is not formally acknowledged in the nursing home setting, staff experiences the reality of death and informally responds to the special needs of residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-207
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


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