Accepted Paper:

Non-interventions as form of care  


Annelieke Driessen (London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
Erica Borgstrom (Open University)
Simon Cohn (London School of Hygiene Tropical Medicine)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation we show that not intervening appears as a difficult thing to do in palliative care. In doing so, we blur the lines between 'doing' and 'not-doing', as to help articulate active non-interventions as a form of care.

Paper long abstract:

Central to Modern medicine's acclaim is its power to intervene. This risks to make non-interventions appear as a form of neglect. In this presentation, we draw on fieldwork in dementia care in the Netherlands, and palliative care settings in the UK. Here, not intervening appears as a difficult thing to do. We explore practices of halting treatment or not starting further treatments as efforts to detach from the wish to treat and cure, in order to open up possibilities for patients to die in ways that honor what they value in life. We argue that paradoxically, in clinical settings doing non-interventions may be more work than intervening, thereby blurring the lines between 'doing' and 'not-doing'. Drawing attention to this work may help to articulate non-intervening as an active form of care.

Panel B05
Crafting attachments, making worlds