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Attitudes Towards Death Reflect Mental Health Conditions

Nov 02, 2017

Professor YUN Young Ho
Professor YUN Young Ho

Professor Yun Young Ho of the Cancer Integration Center at the SNU Hospital conducted a survey in which it was discovered that having a positive outlook on death could improve one’s overall health condition.

The survey asked 1001 cancer patients, 1006 of their family members, 928 medical staff, and 1241 members of the public to choose one of five possible attitudes toward death: 1) “death is the end of everything,” 2) “death is agonizing and frightening,” 3) “there is an afterlife,” 4) “we must accept death as it is and must live out the rest of our lives virtuously,” and 5) “death is not a form of suffering but rather a completion of life.”

The results of the survey showed a correlation between the participants’ attitudes towards death and the condition of their mental and social health. Those who selected the answers reflecting positive outlooks on death (options 3, 4, or 5) were shown to have 1.3-1.5 times better health than those who did not.

Professor Yun says, “With intervention by the medical field, there is a need to change the perspective on death of the patients […] we need to alter the way death is discussed in society.”

Translated from:
Written by Yu Young Jin, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,