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

Authors
  • Dierickx, Sigrid1, 2
  • Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Bregje3
  • Penders, Yolanda4
  • Cohen, Joachim5
  • van der Heide, Agnes6
  • Puhan, Milo A4
  • Ziegler, Sarah4
  • Bosshard, Georg7
  • Deliens, Luc5
  • Chambaere, Kenneth5
  • 1 End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium. [email protected] , (Belgium)
  • 2 End-of-Life Care Research Group, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. [email protected] , (Belgium)
  • 3 Department of Public and Occupational Health, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, VUmc Expertise Center for Palliative Care, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 4 Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 5 End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 6 Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 7 Clinic for Geriatric Medicine, Zurich University Hospital, and Center on Aging and Mobility, University of Zurich and City Hospital Waid, Zurich, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
Type
Published Article
Journal
International journal of public health
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
Volume
65
Issue
1
Pages
65–73
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00038-019-01281-6
PMID: 31297558
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

To describe and compare euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) practice in Flanders, Belgium (BE), the Netherlands (NL) and Switzerland (CH). Mortality follow-back surveys among attending physicians of a random sample of death certificates. 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%). 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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