One-Third of Docs Would Consider Euthanasia for Dementia Patients

One-Third of Docs Would Consider Euthanasia for Dementia Patients
One-Third of Docs Would Consider Euthanasia for Dementia Patients

HealthDay News — Few physicians would find euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) conceivable for patients with psychiatric disease, dementia, or those who are "tired of living," according to a study from the Netherlands published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Eva Elizabeth Bolt, from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues examined whether physicians can conceive of granting requests for EAS in patients with cancer, another physical disease, psychiatric disease, dementia, or among those who are tired of living.

Data were collected from a cross-sectional survey conducted among 2,269 Dutch general practitioners, elderly care physicians, and clinical specialists (response rate, 64%).

The researchers found that most physicians reported that it was conceivable that they would grant an EAS request for a patient with cancer (85%) or another physical disease (82%). A minority of physicians found it conceivable that they would grant this request in patients with psychiatric disease (34%), early-stage dementia (40%), advanced dementia (29 to 33%), or for those who were tired of living (27%).

The likelihood of finding it conceivable that they would perform EAS was highest for general practitioners.

"This study shows that a minority of Dutch physicians find it conceivable that they would grant a request for EAS from a patient with psychiatric disease, dementia, or a patient who is tired of living," the authors write.

Reference

Bolt EE, et al. Can physicians conceive of performing euthanasia in case of psychiatric disease, dementia or being tired of living? J Med Ethics. doi:10.1136/medethics-2014-102150.

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