Researching “a good death”

Because of the rapid aging of the population and modern advan­ces in medicine, the likelihood of sudden death at a fairly young age is becoming more remote. The illness trajectory is changing to one of gradually increasing mental and functional frailty before death. 

This phenomenon has fueled an interest in what may be called “a good death,” with the expectation that medical practitioners are aware of both the practicalities involved as well as the ethics. Medical publishers are rushing to fill the need for information on all aspects of palliative and hospice care, and the College Library has developed a multimedia collection for registrants to use. 

A search of the journal literature, for example, brings up over 36 000 articles on the subject of palliative care alone, almost half of which are available from the College Library’s website in full text. Almost 50 quality print textbooks on the subject may be borrowed, along with seven DVDs and videos. For those physicians who enjoy the flexibility and availability of e-books, the Library subscribes to an electronic version of Walsh’s Palliative Medicine through MDConsult. Users of MP3 players may download some of the 71 audio digest programs on palliative care, or borrow the CD versions from the Library’s collection.

Ethical issues have always been at the foundation of medical care, and the shift toward understanding the path from treatment to palliation is not new. The use of a diverse, multimedia approach may be viewed as one of the many benefits of the modern medical library.
—Karen MacDonell
—Robert Melrose
—Judy Neill
Library Co-managers

This article is the opinion of the Library of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Karen MacDonell, PhD, MLIS, Robert Melrose, Judy Neill. Researching “a good death”. BCMJ, Vol. 54, No. 6, July, August, 2012, Page(s) 280 - College Library.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
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For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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