Tolstoy, Stories, and Facilitating Insight in End of Life Care: Exploring Ethics Through Vicarious Experience
Begley, Ann Marie
Nurse education today 2011 Jul; 31(5): 516-20
Facilitating moral insight in end of life care can be challenging, and the purpose of this paper is to illustrate how this can be nurtured by means of creative literature. Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilych is presented as an example of such literature. Aristotle's Nichomean Ethics provides the philosophical underpinning for the method used. Sources also include the nursing literature, and students' evaluations of the impact of Tolstoy's novella on their ability to perceive the ethical issues arising in end of life care. Comments from evaluations were analysed and significant themes emerged. Students' comments clearly support the suggestion that use of this novella has facilitated insight into ethical issues at the end of life. Evaluations also indicate that vicarious experience gained through reading this novella has helped to nurture sensitivity and professional insight into the importance of compassion and offering 'comfort' to the dying person.
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