Podcast: Bridget Johnston and Carlos Centeno discuss Dignity Therapy

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Professor Bridget Johnston and Dr Carlos Centeno

In this episode, Professor Bridget Johnston and Dr Carlos Centeno discuss Dignity Therapy from their perspectives as academics and palliative care clinicians.

Dignity Therapy is a therapeutic approach which aims to help patients with terminal illnesses to think and to talk about things that are most meaningful to them, and to document their legacy. The overall aim is to improve the end of life experience.


Professor Bridget Johnston is Florence Nightingale Foundation Chair in Clinical Nursing Practice Research at the University of Glasgow.

The main focus of Bridget’s research is to related to palliative, end of life care. She has a clinical academic role. Her post was created by a partnership between the University of Glasgow, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

Bridget has done extensive research into dignity at the end of life, with ongoing studies of the ‘Patient Dignity Question’ as well as aspects of dignity therapy. She has developed and tested a dignity intervention for community nurses with studies conducted in Scotland, England, Ireland and Sweden, and future work will also involve Spain.

Dr Carlos Centeno is an oncologist and full time palliative medicine physician working as a clinical consultant at the University of Navarra’s Department of Palliative Medicine. Carlos is Associate Professor in the University’s Faculty of Medicine and is Principal investigator and director of the ATLANTES Research Programme, which is part of the Institute for Culture and Society within the University of Navarra.

Like Bridget, Carlos studied Dignity Therapy in Canada, and has gone on to apply the skills in his clinical and academic work.

We recorded this conversation during a visit by the ATLANTES team to the University of Glasgow’s Dumfries Campus, home of our Glasgow End of Life Studies Group.

Recent related publications by Bridget, Carlos and their colleagues:

  • Johnston B, Papadopoulou, C, Hunter  K, Andrew J, Östlund  U, Buchanan D, What’s dignity got to do with it? Patient experience of an end of life dignity intervention, The Dignity Care Pathway Sage Open Nursing doi: (in press)
  • Johnston, B., Lawton, S., McCaw, C., Law, E., Murray, J., Gibb, J., Pringle, J., Munro, G., and Rodriguez, C. (2016) Living well with dementia: enhancing dignity and quality of life, using a novel intervention, dignity therapy. International Journal of Older People Nursing, 11(2), pp. 107-120. (doi:10.1111/opn.12103)
  • Martínez, M., Arantzamendi, M., Belar, A., Carrasco, J.M., Carvajal, A., Rullán, A., Centeno, C. (2016) ‘Dignity therapy’, a promising intervention in palliative care: A comprehensive systematic literature review. Palliative Medicine, 1-28 (doi:10.1177/0269216316665562)
  • Johnston B, Narayanasamy M Exploring psychosocial interventions for people with dementia that enhance personhood and relate to legacy, with recommendations for practice- An integrative review, BMC Geriatrics 16 (1) (doi:10.1186/s12877-016-0250-1)
  • Rullán, A., Carvajal, A., Núñez-Córdoba, J.M., Martínez, M., Carrasco, J.M., García, I., Arantzamendi, M., Belar, A., Centeno, C. (2015) Spanish Version of the Patient Dignity Inventory: Translation and Validation in Patients With Advanced Cancer. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 50 (6) 874-81, (doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.07.016)
  • Johnston, B., Pringle, J., Gaffney, M., Narayanasamy, M., McGuire, M., and Buchanan, D. (2015) The dignified approach to care: a pilot study using the patient dignity question as an intervention to enhance dignity and person-centred care for people with palliative care needs in the acute hospital setting. BMC Palliative Care, 14, 9. (doi:10.1186/s12904-015-0013-3)
  • Johnston, B., Lawton, S., and Pringle, J. (2015) ‘This is my story, how I remember it’: In-depth analysis of dignity therapy documents from a study of dignity therapy for people with early stage dementia. Dementia, (doi:10.1177/1471301215605629)
  • Johnston BM , Östlund U, Brown H (2012) Evaluation of the Dignity Care Pathway for community nurses caring for people at the end of life, International Journal of Palliative Nursing 19(6) 314-316 (doi:10.12968/ijpn.2012.18.10.483)

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