Language Barriers to Defining Concepts in Medicine: The Case of Palliative Sedation

Angelos Bakogiannis, Evangelia (Evie) Papavasiliou

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Reports on issues related to palliative sedation. The heterogeneity in the definitions proposed for palliative sedation indicates that defining sedation is an area fraught with complexity, with palliative care experts being unable to decide on a standard, widely accepted, definition. Although the lack of a universally agreed term to describe the concept has been frequently argued to contribute to such inability, the actual cause of it is yet to be determined. Given the focused approach adopted by the current analysis focusing on definition statements alone, however, it would be interesting to explore the way that end-of-life suffering is communicated in a wider written academic discourse context. Evidence will be used as the basis to inform the development of a framework of standard descriptors (forthcoming) required not only to adequately communicate end-of-life suffering in the scientific output of palliative sedation but also to sufficiently address this feature as part of a palliative sedation definition that could potentially gain wider acceptance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-910
Number of pages2
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number9
Early online date13 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • definitions
  • end-of-life suffering
  • language barriers
  • linguistic analysis
  • palliative sedation
  • standard descriptors


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