In the Netherlands during the past decade, a growing number of people with dementia (PWDs) requested euthanasia, and each year more of such requests were granted. We aimed to get quantitative insights in problems and needs general practitioners (GPs) have when confronted with a euthanasia request by a person with dementia (PWD). A concept survey was composed. Expert validity of the survey was achieved through pilot testing A postal survey was sent to a random sample of 900 Dutch GPs, regardless their opinion on or practical experience with euthanasia. Collected data were analysed with descriptive statistics. Of 894 GPs, 423 (47.3%) completed the survey, of whom 176 (41.6%) had experience with euthanasia requests from PWDs. Emotional burden was reported most frequently (86; 52.8%), as well as feeling uncertain about the mental competence of the PWD (77; 47.2%), pressure by relatives (70; 42.9%) or the PWD (56; 34.4%), and uncertainty about handling advance euthanasia directives (AEDs) (43; 26.4%). GPs would appreciate more support by a SCEN physician (an independent physician for support, information and formal consultation around euthanasia). (291; 68.8%), a geriatric consultation team (185; 43.7%), the end-of-life clinic (184; 43.5%), or a palliative care consultation team (179; 42.3%). Surprisingly the need for moral deliberation was hardly mentioned. The reported burden and the rise in numbers and complexity of euthanasia requests from PWDs warrants primary care support by easier access to colleagues with expertise and training on end of life care needs of patients with dementia and their caregivers.
The aim of this study was to determine nurses’ opinions on Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders. This is a descriptive study. A total of 1250 nurses participated in this study. The mean age of participants was 34.5 ± 7.7 years; 92.6% were women; 56.4% had bachelor’s degrees, and 28.8% were intensive care, oncology, or palliative care nurses. Most participants (94.3%) agreed that healthcare professionals involved in DNR decision-making processes should have ethical competence, while they were mostly undecided (43%) about the statement whether or not DNR should be legal. More than half the participants (60.2%) disagreed with the idea that DNR implementation causes an ethical dilemma. Participants’ opinions on DNR decisions significantly differed according to the number of years of employment and unit of duty. The results showed that most of the nurses had positive attitudes towards DNR orders despite it being illegal. Future studies are needed to better understand family members’ and decision makers’ perceptions of DNR orders for patients.
Presented here for analysis are distinct and opposed Buddhist perspectives on the issue of withdrawing life support from a brain-dead individual. Of the four views considered, Peter Harvey argues that withdrawal of care and cessation of treatment is justifiable in a Buddhist context. Another perspective (Scott Stonington and Pinit Ratanakul) points out that the Buddhist physician who withdraws a respirator acquires a karmic demerit that can negatively affect this life and future lives. This second view then concludes that Western bioethical resources are inadequate to address the problem of withdrawal of care. In light of these opposing ethical stances grounded in sectarian viewpoints, this presentation will argue that religious ethics should not be considered “irrational” due to their religious foundations. Furthermore, importing local religious concepts can be deemed morally justifiable if doing so endorses the “moral point of view” in its appeal to universalizability, impartial justice, beneficence, and adherence to a set of normative principles. Can ethics criticize religious views that do not conform to the moral point of view or that seem scientifically uninformed, irrational, sectarian, or in some cases even fanatical ? Even though Western concepts for bioethical analysis should not be accepted uncritically, appeal to the moral point of view is necessary for resolving moral problems even if specifics of that perspective may be backgrounded in non-Western contexts.
Palliative care has potential to improve quality of life and goal-concordant care for patients with adult congenital heart disease (ACHD). However, it is rarely employed prior to critical illness because the best methods for implementation are not well-defined. We qualitatively evaluated ACHD patients' understanding of and opinions regarding palliative care and advance care planning (ACP) to better define the needs of this population. We conducted a thematic analysis of 25 semi-structured interviews with patients with ACHD in which we assessed participants' perspectives on the need for, and barriers and facilitators to, the use of palliative care and ACP. In a group of participants with ACHD (mean age 38, 48% male) classified as simple (24%), moderate (32%), or complex (44%), we identified 4 major themes: 1) using knowledge to combat future uncertainties; 2) unfamiliarity with and limited exposure to palliative care and ACP; 3) facilitators and barriers to engaging in palliative care and ACP; and 4) importance of timing and presentation of ACP discussions. In conclusion, participants expressed a desire for knowledge about ACHD progression and treatment. They supported routine incorporation of palliative care and ACP and identified related facilitators and barriers to doing so. Importantly, timing and format of these discussions must be individualized using shared decision-making between clinicians, patients, and their families.
This study focuses on the impact of common spiritual beliefs regarding metaphysical questions in agreeability with the practice of hastened death. A sample of 497 Portuguese medical students was collected. Differences between genders and religions, predictors for agreeability with hastened death and the association between spiritual beliefs and opinion towards hastened death cases were assessed. Respondents were mostly favourable to the practice of hastened death. Formal religious affiliation and higher levels of religiosity significantly associated with lesser agreeability with hastened death. Statistically significant association was found between every hastened death scenario and multiple of the spiritual beliefs used. A number of spiritual beliefs were predictors of agreeability. We discuss the implications of religion and spirituality in agreeability with hastened death. Further research is required to better understand the true weight of spirituality in one's opinion towards this ethical dilemma.
The current study explores the end-of-life (EOL) preferences of a national representative sample of adults aged 55 and older in Switzerland and shows how these preferences vary by respondents' sociodemographic characteristics and the linguistic region in which they live. Many of the presented EOL attributes are considered as (very) important by a large majority of the older population in Switzerland with significant variations across sociodemographic groups. Specifically, gender is related to psychosocial aspects of EOL, age to the importance attached to avoiding being a burden on the society, and education levels to preferences regarding overtreatment and advance care planning. The results highlight the importance of a personalized, holistic and interdisciplinary approach to EOL and EOL care, since social, psychological, organizational and physical aspects of EOL are rated as (very) important with significant differences in EOL preferences across sociodemographic groups.
In the Western world including Canada, grievous and irredeemable health conditions, which cause unbearable suffering, has given support to the legalization of medical aid in dying (MAiD). It is unknown how Asian Buddhists who are in contact with the Western culture perceive MAiD. In this qualitative study, 16 Asian Buddhists living in Montreal took part in a semi-structured interview. Contrary to general findings in the literature, religious affiliation do not always determine moral stances and practical decisions when it comes to MAiD. Some participants were willing to take some freedom with the doctrine and based their approval of MAiD on the right to self-determination. Those who disapproved the use of MAiD perceived it as causing unnatural death, creating bad karma, and interfering with a conscious death. End-of-life (EoL) care providers have to remain sensitive to each patient's spiritual principles and beliefs to understand their needs and choices for EoL care.
OBJECTIVE: Advance request euthanasia and/or assisted suicide (AR-EAS) in persons with dementia is highly controversial. Results of typical public opinion surveys may not reflect the ethical and practical issues involved in the practice. We tested the impact of incorporating such issues in the assessment of public attitudes toward legalization of AR-EAS.
DESIGN: Online survey (April 27-30, 2020) of 1,711 adults recruited via CloudResearch PrimePanel, matched to U.S. population in age, sex, race and/or ethnicity, education, household income, and political affiliation. After assessing initial attitudes toward legalization of AR-EAS, respondents viewed one of six randomly assigned scenarios depicting an ethical or practical issue in AR-EAS; acceptability of EAS in each scenario as well as general attitudes toward AR-EAS legalization were then elicited.
RESULTS: Approximately 54.4% initially agreed/strongly agreed with AR-EAS legalization; agreement was associated with lower dementia quality-of-life rating, younger age, not being religious, liberal politics, and $75,000–$99,999 income range. After viewing the scenarios, a minority in each scenario arm found the AR-EAS depicted acceptable (20.7%–39.1%; p<0.0001 for all six arms, in comparison with initial legalization question response). Support (agree/strongly agree) for AR-EAS legalization after reading specific scenarios was generally lower (range 36.5%–49.3%; p=0.0002); change in support for legalization was associated with initial support for legalization, acceptability of AR-EAS in the scenarios, dementia quality-of-life ratings, and race.
CONCLUSION: Informing the public of the ethical and practical complexities in AR-EAS may have significant effects on their attitudes toward legalization. Future surveys should ensure that the public's views reflect sufficient exposure to these complexities.
It is April 18th, 2020. I am writing this piece in New York City, the current world epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, listening to the most recent updates on the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19. In the city where I was born, educated, raised a family, live and made a career in Psychiatric Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In New York City alone, there are now at least 130,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and close to 14,000 deaths due to the virus. About 1,300 patients were admitted to the hospital here today, and 507 people died here of COVID-19 today. But this is a global pandemic affecting more than 185 countries, a global tragedy. 2.4 million COVID-19 cases reported worldwide, 165,000 deaths.
Introduction: Advance directives are legal documents which individuals draw up to declare their treatment preferences and to appoint well-informed proxies to safeguard patient autonomy in critical situations when that individual is temporarily or no longer able to communicate these preferences. On December 22, 2017, the Italian Parliament approved the first law on end of life (“Provisions for informed consent and advance directives” L.219/2017), after a heated public and political debate lasting almost twenty years.
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the awareness, knowledge, opinions and attitudes regarding Italian Law 219/2017 and advance directives among the Italian population 15 months after its entry into force.
Methods: A nationwide population-based survey was conducted by a certified public opinion survey company. A sample size of 2000 interviews was planned. A structured questionnaire was developed to investigate awareness, opinions and attitudes concerning the law by a multiprofessional research team. The agreed-on version was pretested on a sample of 70 selected participants.
Results: The sample included 2000 valid interviews; 70.1% of respondents declared they had heard about the law on informed consent and advance directives. Respondents were asked to express their overall opinion on the law’s utility and importance: 88% declared that the law was quite or very important and 76% had a positive attitude towards making/registering advance directives.
Conclusion: The principles of Italian Law 219/2017 are aligned with the ethical sentiment of the vast majority of the Italian population. It is crucial to stimulate discussion to increase knowledge and awareness in order to increase the number of advance directives.
Do the elderly have special obligations during a pandemic, that is, something more than the duty we all have for hand washing, social distancing, and so on? I believe the answer is, yes, and foremost among these is an obligation for parsimonious use of newly scarce and expensive health care resources.
In a recent paper, Charles Foster argued that the epistemic uncertainties surrounding prolonged disorders of consciousness (PDOC) make it impossible to prove that the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment can be in a patient's best interests and, therefore, the presumption in favour of the maintenance of life cannot be rebutted. In the present response, I argue that, from a legal perspective, Foster has reached the wrong conclusion because he is asking the wrong question. According to the reasoning in two leading cases-Bland and James-the principle of respect for autonomy creates a persuasive presumption against treatment without consent. Therefore, it is the continuation of treatment that requires justification, rather than its withdrawal. This presumption also works as the tiebreaker determining that treatment should stop if there is no persuasive evidence that its continuation is in the best interests of the patient. The presumption in favour of the maintenance of life, on the other hand, should be understood as an evidential presumption on a factual issue that is assumed to be true if unchallenged. However, the uncertainties regarding PDOC actually give reasons for displacing this evidential presumption. Consequently, decision-makers will have to weigh up the pros and cons of treatment having the presumption against treatment without consent as the tiebreaker if the evidence is inconclusive. In conclusion, when the right question is asked, Foster's argument can be turned on its head and uncertainties surrounding PDOC weigh in to justify the interruption of treatment in the absence of compelling contrary evidence.
OPINION STATEMENT: National supportive care guidelines for patients with cancer include recognition of patients' spirituality and spiritual needs. Experts differ on how best to address this dimension to our patients' lives. Some suggest that patients' medical team should take on spiritual care, and others suggest referral to chaplains or collaboration with outside clergy. In our view, the patient's medical team ought to best acknowledge patient spirituality when so desired by the patient, but intervention in the case of serious spiritual crisis ought to be the responsibility of those with specific training in this realm. For some patients, "concordance" between the specific spiritual tradition of the patient and chaplain is necessary where for others, non-denominational, secular, or inter-faith chaplaincy services are welcome. The central role for physicians and nurses in this area, is listening, awareness, respect, and where necessary, referral.
OPINION STATEMENT: As palliative care (PC) continues its rapid growth, an emerging body of evidence is demonstrating that its approach of interdisciplinary supportive care benefits many patient populations, including in the oncology setting. As studies and data proliferate, however, questions persist about who, what, why, when, and how PC as well as the ideal time for a PC consult and length of involvement. When comparing outcomes from chemotherapy trials, it is important to consider the dosing regimens used in the various studies. In the same way, it is important to account for the "dose" of the PC interventions utilized across studies, and apples to apples comparisons are needed in order to draw accurate conclusions about PC's benefits. Studies which include a true interdisciplinary PC intervention consistently show improvements in patient quality of life, as well as cost savings, with further study needed for other outcomes. These benefits cannot be extrapolated to care which may be labeled "palliative care," but which does not meet the standard of true interdisciplinary PC. The ultimate question is: Does PC indeed improve outcomes?
The descriptive study was conducted to investigate the knowledge, opinions, behaviors of senior nursing students regarding euthanasia and factors in Islam influencing these. Almost all students (97.7%) knew about euthanasia. Their knowledge, opinions and behaviors were affected by their beliefs about death, religious beliefs and the idea of being subject to euthanasia themselves. Religion influenced whether they wanted euthanasia to be legalized or would carry it out secretly. Students who would be willing for their relatives to undergo euthanasia would not want to participate in this. Knowledge about the concept of euthanasia should be increased and the subject further investigated in many dimensions.
L’auteur Jacques Brotchi retrace, dans un dialogue avec sa petite-nièce, l’évolution de la notion d’euthanasie et ses implications morales en Belgique et ailleurs. Avec clarté et délicatesse, il explique dans quelles circonstances chacun peut bénéficier du droit de choisir sa n de vie et partir dans l’apaisement et la dignité.
The question of a physician's involvement in aid in dying (or "assisted suicide") is being debated across the country. This article adopts no one position because its authors hold contrasting views. It aims instead to articulate the strongest arguments in favor of aid in dying and the strongest arguments opposed. It also addresses relevant terminology and reviews the history of its legalization in the United States.