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Don’t die of boredom: enabling occupation at the end of life
  1. Debbie Pearson, Senior Lecturer
  1. Debbie Pearson is Senior Lecturer, Department of Health and Life Sciences, York St John University, York. Email: d.pearson{at}


Progressive, chronic, life-limiting illness may affect a person’s ability to carry out activities that are important to their sense of wellbeing and their daily living. Boredom is individually determined and is often not well understood or acknowledged by healthcare practitioners. The impact of illness on a person’s ability to carry out meaningful activity following terminal diagnosis is explored in this article and the concept of boredom is addressed. The place of occupational therapy within a rehabilitative approach for people at the end of life is identified and supported by reference to published literature. The author describes her experience as a Macmillan occupational therapist, caring for people whose daily living experience was bereft of meaningful, purposeful activity. Acknowledging that their illness was terminal, patients revealed to the author that they ‘did not want to die of boredom’. The importance of meaningful occupation is identified and supported by examples from the author’s experience. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Boredom
  • End-of-life care
  • Occupational deprivation
  • Occupational therapy
  • Rehabilitative approach

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