Assisted dying and palliative care in three jurisdictions: Flanders, Oregon, and Quebec

Gerson, S. M., Koksvik, G. H., Richards, N. , Materstvedt, L. J. and Clark, D. (2021) Assisted dying and palliative care in three jurisdictions: Flanders, Oregon, and Quebec. Annals of Palliative Medicine, 10(3), pp. 3528-3539. (doi: 10.21037/apm-20-632) (PMID:33302637)

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Background: An increasing number of jurisdictions around the world are legalizing assisted dying. This creates a particular challenge for the field of palliative care, which often precludes producing premature death by the injection or self-administration of lethal medications upon a patient’s voluntary request. A 2019 systematic scoping review of the literature about the relationship between palliative care and assisted dying in contexts where assisted dying is lawful, found just 16 relevant studies that included varied and combined stances ranging from complete opposition, to collaboration and integration. Building on that review, the present study was conducted in Quebec (Canada), Flanders (Belgium), and Oregon (USA), with the objective of exploring the relationship between palliative care and assisted dying in these settings, from the perspective of clinicians and other professionals involved in the practice. Methods: Semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 29 professionals from Oregon [10], Quebec [9] and Flanders [10]. Participants were involved in the development of policy, management, or delivery of end of life care services in each of the jurisdictions. Data was analyzed thematically and followed a procedure of data immersion, and the construction of a thematic and interpretive account. Results: Three themes were identified from each of the locations. Flanders: the integrated approach; discontents in palliative care; concerns about liberalization of assisted dying laws. Oregon: the role of hospice; non-standardized protocols and policies; concerns about access to medications and care. Quebec: a contested relationship; the special situation of independent hospice; lack of knowledge about and access to palliative care. Conclusions: No clear and uniform relationship between palliative care and assisted dying can be identified in any of the three locations. The context and practicalities of how assisted dying is being implemented alongside access to palliative care need to be considered to inform future laws. We seek a better understanding of whether and in what ways assisted dying presents a threat to palliative care.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Clark, Professor David and Gerson, Dr Sheri Mila and Richards, Dr Naomi and Koksvik, Dr Gitte
Authors: Gerson, S. M., Koksvik, G. H., Richards, N., Materstvedt, L. J., and Clark, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Annals of Palliative Medicine
Publisher:AME Publishing Company
ISSN (Online):2224-5839
Published Online:04 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Annals of Palliative Medicine
First Published:First published in Annals of Palliative Medicine 10(3): 3528-3539
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
170345Interventions at the end of life: social, historical and comparative analysis to promote global improvement.David ClarkWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)103319/Z/13/ZIS - Interdisciplinary Studies