Palliative care, directed at improving the quality of life of terminally ill patients, is generally not aimed at any form of postponing or hastening death. It is possible that high quality palliative care could prevent requests for euthanasia. However, empirical evidence on this issue is scarce. In a national survey of end-of-life medical decisions in The Netherlands the subject of care at the end of life has been addressed. Data on terminally ill cancer patients who died after their request was granted and euthanasia had been performed were compared with those of terminally ill cancer patients who did not request euthanasia. The results show that the prevalence and severity of symptoms e.g., pain, feeling unwell, nausea, was higher in patients who died after their request was granted and euthanasia had been performed. No differences concerning the treatment of symptoms or the care provided were found between the two groups. The results suggest that the practice of euthanasia is mainly related to the patient's suffering.

Cancer, Empirical evidence, Euthanasia, Palliative care, Suffering, Terminal illness
dx.doi.org/10.1191/0269216305pm1069oa, hdl.handle.net/1765/68265
Palliative Medicine: a multiprofessional journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Georges, J.-J, Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B.D, van der Wal, G, van der Heide, A, & van der Maas, P.J. (2005). Differences between terminally ill cancer patients who died after euthanasia had been performed and terminally ill cancer patients who did not request euthanasia. Palliative Medicine: a multiprofessional journal, 19(8), 578–586. doi:10.1191/0269216305pm1069oa