The basic tenets of palliative care may be summarized as the goal of
helping patients to die with dignity. The term "dignity" provides an overarching
framework that may guide the physician, patient, and family in defining the
objectives and therapeutic considerations fundamental to end-of-life care.
Dignity-conserving care is care that may conserve or bolster the dignity of
dying patients. Using segments of interviews with a patient with advanced
lung cancer, his wife, and his palliative care physician, this article illustrates
and explores various aspects of dignity-conserving care and the model on which
it is based. Dignity-conserving care offers an approach that clinicians can
use to explicitly target the maintenance of dignity as a therapeutic objective
and as a principle of bedside care for patients nearing death.