Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Afterlife


In February 2014, after not having spoken to him for more than a decade, I got an e-mail from my friend Paul Kalanithi asking for writing advice. A chief neurosurgical resident at Stanford who, at 36, had already conducted award-winning basic science research, Paul was trying to piece together a job as a physician-scientist and writer. But there was a hitch: he had just been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. “I no longer know what the hell I’m doing,” he wrote. Though he’d had job offers, they’d arrived when he was too sick to take them. “It’s only in the . . .

Concepts: Cancer, Lung cancer, Cancer staging, Writing, Afterlife, Creative writing, Heaven, Hell


Although the place of death has a great influence on the quality of death and dying for cancer patients, whether the survival time differs according to the place of death is unclear. The primary aim of this study was to explore potential differences in the survival time of cancer patients dying at home or in a hospital.

Concepts: Disease, Death, Senescence, Life, Demography, Afterlife


People often feel awkward and ill at ease when faced with the opportunity for communication at the end of life, thus the overall theme for the articles in this special issue is the creation of more awareness and knowledge regarding the depth, breadth, and importance of current research exploring family communication at the end of life. This introductory essay attempts to accomplish the following: (1) discuss the importance of talk regarding death; (2) highlight the formative role of family interactions on the death and dying process; and (3) outline the articles in this special issue. Scholars contributing to this special issue on “Family Communication at the End of Life” have provided evidence that communication is important between and for terminally ill individuals, family members, and healthcare/palliative care specialists. Overall, research exploring communication at the end of life is especially relevant because every person experiences the death and loss of loved ones, and ultimately faces the reality of their own death.

Concepts: Death, Life, Consciousness, Afterlife, Reincarnation


In people’s imagination, dying seems dreadful; however, these perceptions may not reflect reality. In two studies, we compared the affective experience of people facing imminent death with that of people imagining imminent death. Study 1 revealed that blog posts of near-death patients with cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were more positive and less negative than the simulated blog posts of nonpatients-and also that the patients' blog posts became more positive as death neared. Study 2 revealed that the last words of death-row inmates were more positive and less negative than the simulated last words of noninmates-and also that these last words were less negative than poetry written by death-row inmates. Together, these results suggest that the experience of dying-even because of terminal illness or execution-may be more pleasant than one imagines.

Concepts: Death, Senescence, Medical terms, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Mind, Consciousness, Unsolved problems in neuroscience, Afterlife


Key Information Summaries (KIS) were introduced throughout Scotland in 2013 so that anticipatory care plans written by general practitioners (GPs) could be routinely shared electronically and updated in real time, between GPs and providers of unscheduled and secondary care.

Concepts: Death, Writing, General practitioner, Primary care, Afterlife, Brad Pitt


There are no empiric results concerning the quality of care for dying persons at nursing homes up to now. 30-40% of all Germans pass away at nursing homes. This study was carried out in 2014 and is presented now. It’s aim is to describe the nursing, medical and psychosocial situation and - if necessary - to word suggestions for improvement.

Concepts: Disease, Death, Life, Geriatrics, Care of residents, Nursing home, Afterlife


Propofol has gained notoriety in recent years because of its involvement in high-profile deaths and has increasingly become a drug of misuse and abuse particularly by health care personnel with easy access to it. In addition, propofol has also been used for more nefarious purposes such as murder and suicide. These, coupled with the drug’s routine use for both major and minor medical procedures, provide ample opportunities for it to be implicated as a cause of death or contributing factor. In such instances, forensic investigators may be faced with the task of not only detecting the presence of propofol on postmortem toxicology screening, but also determining if it was indeed responsible for the decedent’s demise. While propofol has a high volume of distribution, it is thought to equilibrate and be eliminated rapidly and not show significant tissue accumulation. However, this article presents a case illustrating that propofol can accumulate in the tissues and may be found up to a week after administration. This capacity to accumulate implies that postmortem detection does not necessarily confirm administration near the time of death, and further investigation needs to be undertaken to determine the timeline of events in order to rule out other factors, such as recent medical interventions, before attributing the cause of death to the presence of the drug.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Death, Life, Demography, Suicide, Autopsy, Afterlife


Mortality following shooting is related to time to provision of initial and definitive care. An understanding of the wounding pattern, opportunities for rescue, and incidence of possibly preventable death is needed to achieve the goal of zero preventable deaths following trauma.

Concepts: Death, Life, Demography, Afterlife


With 40 donors and more than 100 transplant procedures per million population in 2015, Spain holds a privileged position worldwide in providing transplant services to its patient population. The Spanish success derives from a specific organizational approach to ensure the systematic identification of opportunities for organ donation and their transition to actual donation and to promote public support for the donation of organs after death. The Spanish results are to be highlighted in the context of the dramatic decline in the incidence of brain death and the changes in end-of-life care practices in the country since the beginning of the century. This prompted the system to conceive the 40 donors per million population plan, with three specific objectives: (i) promoting the identification and early referral of possible organ donors from outside of the intensive care unit to consider elective non-therapeutic intensive care and incorporate the option of organ donation into end-of-life care; (ii) facilitating the use of organs from expanded criteria and non-standard risk donors; and (iii) developing the framework for the practice of donation after circulatory death. This article describes the actions undertaken and their impact on donation and transplantation activities.

Concepts: Death, Biology, Heart, Organ, Organ transplant, Organ donation, Afterlife, Legal death


Although child mortality is decreasing, more than half of all deaths in childhood occur in children with a life-limiting condition whose death may be expected.

Concepts: Death, Life, Demography, Child, Childhood, United Nations, Afterlife