18 Feb Study Suggests Most Physicians Would Not Perform Euthanasia For Dementia or Psychiatric Disease
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Eva E. Bolt MD
Physician researcher Dept. Public and Occupational Health
EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research (VU University Medical Center)
Medical Faculty Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Bolt: Three-quarter of all Dutch physicians have ever been asked by a patient to perform euthanasia. Each request for euthanasia calls for careful deliberation. Firstly, the physician needs to judge whether euthanasia would be possible within the limits of the law. Above that, a physician needs to decide whether performing euthanasia is in line with his personal believes and values. This study shows that cause of suffering is an important factor in this decision.
In the Netherlands, the euthanasia law gives physicians the possibility of performing euthanasia, if they adhere to strict rules. The euthanasia law is not restricted to certain diseases. However, this study shows that the attitude of physicians towards performing euthanasia varies by condition. Most Dutch physicians would consider granting a request for euthanasia in case of cancer (85%) or another severe physical disease (82%). In contrast, only four out of ten physicians would consider granting a request for euthanasia in case of early-stage dementia. One in three would consider it in case of advanced dementia or psychiatric disease, and one in four in case of a person who is tired of living without suffering from a severe disease.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Bolt: Each physician needs to form his or her own standpoint on euthanasia, based on legal boundaries and personal values. For patients with a wish for euthanasia, it is important to realize that a physician’s decision on euthanasia is highly individual. The chance that a physician refuses a request for euthanasia in case of dementia, psychiatric disease or tired of living is high.
We would advise people with a future wish for euthanasia to discuss this wish with their physician in time, and we would advise physicians to be clear about their standpoint on the matter. This can help to prevent disagreement and disappointment.
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:, & Eva E. Bolt MD (2015). Study Suggests Most Physicians Would Not Perform Euthanasia For Dementia or Psychiatric Disease MedicalResearch.com