Relatives' perspective on the terminally ill patients who died after euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide: a retrospective cross-sectional interview study in the Netherlands.

Research paper by Jean-Jacques JJ Georges, Bregje D BD Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Martien T MT Muller, Gerrit G Van Der Wal, Agnes A Van Der Heide, Paul J PJ Van Der Maas

Indexed on: 30 Nov '06Published on: 30 Nov '06Published in: Death studies


This study used retrospective interviews with 87 relatives to describe the experiences of patients who died by euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (EAS) in the Netherlands. Most of the patients suffered from cancer (85%). The relatives were most often a partner (63%) or a child (28%) of the patient. Before explicitly requesting EAS most patients (79%) had spoken about their wishes concerning medical end-of-life decisions to be made at a later date. Hopeless suffering, loss of dignity, and no prospect of recovery were the most prevalent reasons for explicitly requesting EAS. According to the relative, in 92% of patients EAS had contributed favourably to the quality of the end of life, mainly by preventing or ending suffering.