The “Medicalized Death”: Dying in the Hospital

Benyamin Schwarz, Jacquelyn J. Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article is part of a larger study dedicated to the place of death and dying. The focus of this article is on the “medicalized death” of older people who died in hospitals in Israel and the United States and is based on the experiences of four family members who cared for them at the end of their lives. In-depth interviews were conducted with each participant, and narrative analysis methods were utilized to identify themes in the data. In the findings section, participant accounts are presented as individual monologues, each followed by the authors’ theoretical commentary. Despite the fact that the process of dying in a hospital is often depicted in the media as being fraught with excessive and aggressive procedures, the cases described in this article suggest there is marked ambiguity and contradiction experienced by caregivers and patients regarding the hospital setting for the process of dying. In some cases, the hospital was perceived as a preferred place for dying because it often reduced caregiver strain. However, participants also remarked on many undesirable aspects about hospital deaths, including dying in the company of strangers; the lack of empathy from physicians; existential dilemmas about the withdrawal of treatment; and several more.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-430
Number of pages52
JournalJournal of Housing for the Elderly
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


  • Medicalized death; hospital death; dying process; family caregivers; withdrawal of treatment; physician empathy


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