Public opinion on preferences and priorities for end-of-life care in sub-Saharan Africa: piloting a novel method of street surveying

Julia Downing, Nancy Gikaara, Barbara Gomes, Barbara A Daveson, Irene J Higginson, Richard Harding, Project PRISMA, Natalia Monteiro Calanzani (Member of Consortium)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a great need for end-of-life care in Africa due to the high incidence of life-threatening illness. However, little is known about the views of the African public on end-of-life care. Therefore, the authors piloted a street survey in Nairobi (Kenya), where adult pedestrians were randomly interviewed about local preferences and priorities for end-of-life care. Two of 19 people consented but later withdrew, one because of religious beliefs and one because of the sensitive nature of the subject. Interviews took approximately 15 min. Interviewers' field notes revealed no major problems with content, but identified tribal and ethnic origin as a sensitive topic, and stressed the usefulness of the presence of a 'buddy' for the safety of the interviewer. One participant found it upsetting to talk about the topic and did not want to be informed about a terminal illness. The 16 remaining participants said the interview was not distressing and answered all questions. All 17 had experienced the death of a close relative in the last 5 years. Methodological and implementation lessons have been learnt and the results of the pilot suggest street surveying is a feasible and acceptable method to examine public opinion on end-of-life care in Africa, provided people are able to freely decline to respond and safety measures are in place for interviewer. This novel pilot offers a new opportunity for health research in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-4
Number of pages3
JournalBMJ Supportive & Palliative Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Adult
  • Attitude to Death
  • Developing Countries
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Preference
  • Pilot Projects
  • Public Opinion
  • Terminal Care
  • Young Adult


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