Towards a better understanding of what palliative sedated patientsexperience. Linking numbers to experiences.

Project Details


Once death is imminent, a major concern is to assure maximal comfort. In case of untreatable suffering, palliative sedation may be chosen. In such cases comfort is sought by reducing the patient's level of consciousness. An important principle is that 'sedation should not be deeper than necessary to assure comfort'.

A straightforward way to know if a patient suffers would be to ask him. However, in case of (deep) palliative sedation communication is usually impossible. Caregivers then have to assess the patient's comfort by observing him/her. Recently, more sophisticated techniques from the neurosciences have been used and found out that sometimes consciousness and pain is undetectable with the
traditional behavioral methods.

The aim of this study is to better understand what palliative sedated patients experience in the last days of their life and to find out if they are really free of pain. In this study we want to observe 40 patients from the moment that palliative sedation has been initiated until death. We will evaluate to what degree assessments of comfort based on behavioural observations are in line with the results from a brain function monitor that is often used in operating theatre.

Additionally we want to find out if changes in the measured depth of sedation can be experienced by the patient, caregivers and relatives, especially in the last moments of life when unexpected changes can be measured.
Effective start/end date1/01/1531/12/18


  • Critical Care

Flemish discipline codes

  • Intensive care anaesthesiology