Miss Rhiannon Snaith
My doctoral research examines media representations of end-of-life decisions which I started in October 2022. In previous research, I looked at how end-of-life decisions in the Court of Protection are reported in UK newspapers. Prior to this, I also explored the concept of utilising creative writing for therapeutic purposes and looked at the implications and effects journalism can have on mental health from multiple perspectives, with a specific focus on Covid-19 pandemic.
I have an undergraduate degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of South Wales, a postgraduate degree in International Journalism from Swansea University and a postgraduate degree in Social Science Research Methods from Cardiff University.
If you are interested in my research, or would like to reach out, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Research Topic: The Role of Journalists in Reporting End-of-Life Decisions: Questions of Ethics, Law and Democratic Citizenship
Supervising school: School of Journalism, Media and Culture
Primary funding source: ESRC Studentship
Research keywords: End-of-life care, life-sustaining treatment, mental capacity, medical ethics, assisted dying
Primarily, my research will analyse media representations of decisions made regarding life-sustaining treatment for those without the capacity to make such decisions for themselves. For instance, those who have severe dementia, learning disabilities or those who are in a vegetative state. My research is significant because many people in the UK are unfamiliar with how end-of-life decisions are made.
Decisions regarding life-sustaining treatments, or medical treatments, for those without capacity are made with the ‘best interests’ of the patient in mind by a clinician, judge or someone who has been formally assigned with Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare. However, these decisions are not always straight-forward. Firstly, the decision-maker must be sure that the patient lacks the capacity to make the decision for themselves and, if it is ascertained that they lack capacity, that the decision is made with the wishes and beliefs of the patient (when they had capacity) in mind.
During this decision-making process, it is also important to be aware of legal instruments such as Advance Decisions. An Advance Decision, that has followed the procedures outlined in the Mental Capacity Act 2005, is a legally binding document or spoken statement that specifies refusals of treatment.
It is often acknowledged that the media is an influential tool that can impact public perceptions, beliefs, and understandings on a range of issues. This research aims to draw attention to the importance of managing communication between social organisations and the media to ensure accurate, objective and inclusive coverage of end-of-life decision-making.