|Abstract as per original application
Following over three decades of market reforms and stringent birth planning policies, the People's Republic of China is undergoing a dramatic demographic and cultural transformation that has significant ramifications for the care of older people and the critically ill. By focusing on fraught debates over the use and termination of costly medical technologies in Chinese hospitals, this research project will provide fresh data on emerging caregiving practices and health-seeking strategies. The project will produce the first research monograph on the culture and ethics of critical care in urban China, linking transformations in family-based caregiving with the growing medicalization of death in Chinese hospitals. The interdisciplinary impact of this project is far-reaching, with important insights for understanding the role of medical technology in the context of a rapidly ageing society and an unevenly privatized health care system.
Drawing on approaches from sociocultural anthropology and the medical humanities, the principal investigator will utilize mixed methods (including ethnographic observation, interviewing, surveys, and archival work) to collect comparative data on end-of-life treatment in tertiary care hospitals located in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Zhengzhou. With over half of all deaths in urban China now occurring in medical facilities, these sites for critical care offer a crucial window on how the medicalization of dying is transforming the ways in which Chinese patients, families, and medical professionals confront mortality. The project will integrate qualitative and quantitative data to provide a rigorous analysis of the challenges involved in caring for the critically ill in urban China.
This research project builds upon the principal investigator's previous work on the culture and ethics of transnational biomedical technologies. While the principal investigator's first book (Biomedical Odysseys, Princeton 2017) focuses on the efforts of terminally ill patients and their families around the world to pursue experimental stem cell therapies in urban China, this new research study goes beyond the pursuit of curative medicine to examine what happens when technological interventions are no longer able to restore health. By shifting the focus from cure to care, this project will illuminate the ways in which Chinese patients, family members, and health care providers negotiate the practical and moral challenges of care at the limits of medicine.
本研究將以主研究者之前關於跨國生物醫學技術的文化和倫理的研究著作為基礎 (2017 年由普林斯頓大學出版社出版專著 Biomedical Odysseys: Fetal Cell Experiments from Cyberspace to China)，將研究重點從有藥可醫的疾病治療進一步轉移到無法挽救的臨終護理，以闡明中國重症患者、家庭成員和醫療人員，是如何在醫學技術的限制下就護理的實際需要和道德挑戰與死亡進行艱難交涉的。