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Commonalities and differences in legal euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in three countries: a population-level comparison


Dierickx, Sigrid; Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Bregje; Penders, Yolanda; Cohen, Joachim; van der Heide, Agnes; Puhan, Milo A; Ziegler, Sarah; Bosshard, Georg; Deliens, Luc; Chambaere, Kenneth (2020). Commonalities and differences in legal euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in three countries: a population-level comparison. International Journal of Public Health, 65(1):65-73.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES To describe and compare euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) practice in Flanders, Belgium (BE), the Netherlands (NL) and Switzerland (CH).
METHODS Mortality follow-back surveys among attending physicians of a random sample of death certificates.
RESULTS We studied 349 EAS deaths in BE (4.6% of all deaths), 851 in NL (4.6% of all deaths) and 65 in CH (1.4% of all deaths). People who died by EAS were mostly aged 65 or older (BE: 81%, NL: 77% and CH: 71%) and were mostly diagnosed with cancer (BE: 57% and NL: 66%). Home was the most common place of death in NL (79%), while in BE and CH, more variation was found regarding to place of death. The decision to perform EAS was more frequently discussed with a colleague physician in BE (93%) and NL (90%) than in CH (60%).
CONCLUSIONS EAS practice characteristics vary considerably in the studied countries with legal EAS. In addition to the legal context, cultural factors as well as the manner in which legislation is implemented play a role in how EAS legislation translates into practice.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES To describe and compare euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) practice in Flanders, Belgium (BE), the Netherlands (NL) and Switzerland (CH).
METHODS Mortality follow-back surveys among attending physicians of a random sample of death certificates.
RESULTS We studied 349 EAS deaths in BE (4.6% of all deaths), 851 in NL (4.6% of all deaths) and 65 in CH (1.4% of all deaths). People who died by EAS were mostly aged 65 or older (BE: 81%, NL: 77% and CH: 71%) and were mostly diagnosed with cancer (BE: 57% and NL: 66%). Home was the most common place of death in NL (79%), while in BE and CH, more variation was found regarding to place of death. The decision to perform EAS was more frequently discussed with a colleague physician in BE (93%) and NL (90%) than in CH (60%).
CONCLUSIONS EAS practice characteristics vary considerably in the studied countries with legal EAS. In addition to the legal context, cultural factors as well as the manner in which legislation is implemented play a role in how EAS legislation translates into practice.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute (EBPI)
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Geriatric Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
Language:English
Date:1 January 2020
Deposited On:16 Oct 2019 13:29
Last Modified:16 Sep 2021 16:33
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1661-8556
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-019-01281-6
PubMed ID:31297558

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