People with young-onset dementia and their family caregivers discussing euthanasia: A qualitative analysis of their considerations

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Research showed that people with young-onset dementia and their family caregivers raised the topic of euthanasia when talking about the broader topic of advance care planning. A better understanding of what people address and why may inform the evolving landscape of physician assisted dying. This study aimed to explore the considerations that people with young-onset dementia and their family caregivers expressed on euthanasia.

METHODS: A secondary qualitative analysis on interviews with 10 Belgian people with young-onset dementia and 25 family caregivers, using constant comparative analysis.

RESULTS: Respondents described similar contexts in which euthanasia had been discussed: the topic arose at 'key' moments, mostly with family caregivers, and was motivated by patients considering the impact of disease progression for themselves and their loved-ones. Caregivers shared opinions on the euthanasia law and discussed the emotional impact of discussing euthanasia.

CONCLUSIONS: Considerations of people with young-onset dementia towards euthanasia appear rooted in personal, as well as in anticipated interpersonal and societal suffering. The negative image associated with dementia and dementia care seemed to influence people's expectations for and thoughts on the future.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Patient-physician communication should include detangling motives for euthanasia requests, openly discussing fears and reflecting on prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107882
Number of pages17
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Volume115
Early online date12 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

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