Abstract

Hospice is a medical setting for patients with terminal illnesses where active treatment is withdrawn in favor of providing comfort and dignity at the end of life. Providing comfort extends beyond managing physical pain to include social, emotional, spiritual, and environmental aspects of care. We studied technology's role in achieving these multifaceted dimensions of comfort through interviews with 16 family members of past hospice patients. Comfort was an ongoing pursuit, requiring the involvement of diverse stakeholders; communication technologies were selectively chosen in service of this achievement. We provide opportunities and recommendations for technologies in hospice, including the need for varying degrees of richness and symmetry, and for support for life-affirming acts. To our knowledge, this constitutes the first study, in the CSCW and HCI literatures, of communication technology use during the final days of a person's life, with implications both for hospice and for the end of life more broadly.

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