This research will analyse media representations of decisions about life-sustaining treatment, specifically for those without the capacity to make such decisions for themselves (e.g., due to severe dementia or learning disabilities or being in a vegetative state).
Decisions about medical treatment are either made by the patient themselves, or, if the patient lacks capacity to make the decision, are made in their ‘best interests’ by a clinician, a judge, or someone assigned with Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare. However, these important decisions are not always straight-forward as the decision-maker must be sure the patient lacks capacity to make the decision for themselves and must try to ascertain what the patient’s own wishes (when they had capacity) would have been. There is also a need to be aware of legal instruments such as Advance Decisions.
The media is an influential tool that can impact public perceptions and beliefs, but media reporting can also be influenced by external factors which may have an effect on reporting. This research aims to analyse how the continuation or discontinuation of life-sustaining treatments are reported in UK media.
There are a vast number of discussions and research within this area, and this research aims to contribute by drawing attention to the importance of managing communication between social organisations and the media to ensure accurate, objective, and inclusive coverage of end-of-life decision-making.