Death at Work (2011-2015)

In his PhD-project "Death at work. An interpretation of biographical narratives of professionals in end of life care" Kjetil Moen has explored the personal in the professional among people who work in end of life care.

The main research interest was how encountering the death of patients may inform the self-understanding of health professionals. Through in-depth, biographical-narrative interviews with nurses, doctors and chaplains (4 from each profession) – in Norway and in the US - Moen explored the self-understanding of professionals and how it might have changed due to encounters at the border between life and death.

The study is psycho-social in that it has a cross-disciplinary and holistic orientation to research which entails an understanding of how psychological and social phenomena relate to each other, drawing on the social sciences, humanities and applied psychoanalytic studies.

The welfare professional, a key focus of interest both for our research group and for this project, is influenced in their role by an inner life of anxiety and desire, a set of interpersonal relationships, the organizations within which they operate, and the policies and societal expectations which define their work and its context.

The main contribution of Moen`s study, in a field where research has had a strong (and legitimate) focus on the patient, is a deeper understanding of how the health professional is informed by working with death and dying. Knowledge gained though this project may serve both professionals and patients, but also educational institutions and employing organizations in whose interest it is to prepare, support and contribute to the development of the health care professionals serving at the bedside of patients facing their own death.

Supervisor: Professor Ellen Ramvi

Co-supervisor: Professor Lynn Froggett


Moen, K. (2018). Death at Work: Existential and Psycho-Social Perspectives on End-of-Life-Care. Studies in the Psychosocial series. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Listen to Dr Kjetil Moen talk about our complex relationships with death in this podcast from Pia og Psyken (in Norwegian 4 January 2017).

Read more about Moen's research in this article from ("Frykter å ikkje klare møtet med døyande pasientar", 23 October 2016)

Dr Kjetil Moen was interviewed about his PhD thesis Death at Work in the Norwegian nursing journal Sykepleien ("De som ser døden i øynene", 12 October 2016).

Moen also featured in the column "Doktoren svarer" in the Norwegian newspaper Morgenbladet ("Dødsvanskelig", 16-22 September 2016, p. 23).

His thesis is also the subject of this interview presented at the Norwegian Vicars' Union website (Presteforeningen).