Attitudes towards euthanasia among health workers, students and family members of patients in hospice in north-eastern Poland
- Krajewska - Kułak, Kułak, Lewko
BACKGROUND In recent decades significant developments in end-of-life care have taken place in The Netherlands. There has been more attention for palliative care and alongside the practice of euthanasia has been regulated. OBJECTIVE The aim of this paper is to describe the opinions of physicians with regard to the relationship between palliative care and euthanasia, and determinants of these opinions. DESIGN Cross-sectional. SETTING/SUBJECTS Representative samples of physicians (n = 410), relatives of patients who died after euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS; n = 87), and members of the Euthanasia Review Committees (ERCs; n = 35). MEASUREMENTS Structured interviews with physicians and relatives of patients, and a written questionnaire for the members of the ERCs. RESULTS Approximately half of the physicians disagreed and one third agreed with statements describing the quality of palliative care in The Netherlands as suboptimal and describing the expertise of physicians with regard to palliative care as insufficient. Almost two thirds of the physicians disagreed with the suggestion that adequate treatment of pain and terminal care make euthanasia redundant. Having a religious belief, being a nursing home physician or a clinical specialist, never having performed euthanasia, and not wanting to perform euthanasia were related to the belief that adequate treatment of pain and terminal care could make euthanasia redundant. CONCLUSION The study results indicate that most physicians in The Netherlands are not convinced that palliative care can always alleviate all suffering at the end of life and believe that euthanasia could be appropriate in some cases.