Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Jeanne Shea

Second Advisor

Robert Gramling


Palliative care, cancer, metaphor, fighting metaphors, military metaphors, violence metaphors


Fighting metaphors have been critiqued both inside and outside the field of palliative medicine, and while the use of a fighting metaphors to describe disease has been studied, limited investigation into the prevalence and significance of these metaphors in the palliative care setting has been done. Some studies have critiqued biomedicine for pushing fighting metaphors onto patients. To study the trends in the usage of fighting metaphors in the palliative care setting, I analyzed verbatim transcripts of palliative care conversations from the Palliative Care Conversation Research Institute (PCCRI), which included patients, family members, and clinicians. I identified 176 instances of fighting metaphors and analyzed the trends in the occurrence and usage of the metaphors. Use of fighting metaphors was variable in terms of the speaker, subject, and object of the metaphor. My research indicates that patients and family members initiated and used the metaphor more frequently than clinicians in palliative care conversations. Fighting metaphors were used to express goals of care, demonstrate empathy, and express identity. My findings indicate that fighting metaphors have a wide range of uses in a palliative care setting and do not appear to be pushed onto patients by clinicians.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Saturday, May 11, 2024