The appropriate use of artificial nutrition or hydration (ANH) for patients with advanced dementia continues to be a subject of debate. We investigated opinions of Dutch and Australian doctors about the use of ANH in patients with advanced dementia. We interviewed 15 Dutch doctors and 16 Australian doctors who care for patients with advanced dementia. We transcribed and analysed the interviews and held consensus meetings about the interpretation. We found that Dutch and Australian doctors use similar medical considerations when they decide about the use of ANH. In general, they are reluctant to start ANH. Disparities between the Dutch and Australian doctors are related to the process of decision-making: Dutch doctors seem to put more emphasis on a comprehensive assessment of the patient's actual situation, whereas Australian doctors are more inclined to use scientific evidence and advance directives. Furthermore, Dutch doctors take the primary responsibility themselves whereas Australian general practitioners seem to be more inclined to leave the decision to the family. It seems that Dutch and Australian doctors use somewhat different care approaches for patients with advanced dementia. Combining the Dutch comprehensive approach and the Australian analytic approach may serve the interest of patients and their families best.

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Palliative Medicine: a multiprofessional journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Buiting, H.M, Clayton, J.M, Butow, P.N, van Delden, J.J.M, & van der Heide, A. (2011). Artificial nutrition and hydration for patients with advanced dementia: Perspectives from medical practitioners in the Netherlands and Australia. Palliative Medicine: a multiprofessional journal, 25(1), 83–91. doi:10.1177/0269216310382589