Relatives' needs in terms of bereavement care throughout euthanasia processes: A qualitative study

Charlotte Boven, Let Dillen, Liesbeth Van Humbeeck, Lieve Van Den Block, Ruth Piers, Nele Van Den Noortgate

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AIM: To explore relatives' needs in terms of bereavement care during euthanasia processes, how healthcare providers respond to these needs, and the degree of commonality between relatives' and healthcare providers' reports.

DESIGN: A phenomenological design was employed, utilising reflexive thematic analysis to examine interviews conducted with relatives (N = 19) and healthcare providers (N = 47).

RESULTS: Relatives' needs throughout euthanasia processes are presented in five main themes and several subthemes, with similar findings between both sets of participants. Although relatives infrequently communicated their needs explicitly to healthcare providers, they appreciated it when staff proactively met their needs. Healthcare providers aimed to assist with the relatives' grief process by tending to their specific needs. However, aftercare was not consistently offered, but relatives did not have high expectations for professional follow-up care.

CONCLUSION: Our research offers important directions for healthcare professionals, empowering them to provide needs-based bereavement care during euthanasia processes. Moreover, it emphasises the importance of recognising the unique needs of relatives and proactively addressing them in the period before the loss to positively contribute to relatives' grief process.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE PROFESSION AND/OR PATIENT CARE: Insights into relatives' needs in the context of euthanasia. Good practices on how healthcare providers can attend to relatives' needs before, during and after the loss IMPACT: Current literature and guidelines on needs-based bereavement care in the context of euthanasia and, more generally, assisted dying, are limited. These findings provide concrete directions for practice in supporting (nearly) bereaved relatives in the context of euthanasia, potentially mitigating adverse health outcomes.

REPORTING METHOD: Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research (SRQR checklist).

PATIENT OR PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: Relatives of deceased cancer patients were involved in the conduct of the study.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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