Assisted dying request assessments by trained consultants: changes in practice and quality - Repeated cross-sectional surveys (2008-2019)

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OBJECTIVES: To study changes in the peer consultation practice of assessing assisted dying requests and its quality among trained 'Life End Information Forum' (LEIF) consultants in Belgium between 2008 and 2019.

METHODS: Cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2008 (N=132) and 2019 (N=527) among all registered LEIF consultants.

RESULTS: The response rate was 75% in 2008 and 57% in 2019. In 2019 compared with 2008, more LEIF consultants were significantly less than 40 years old (25%/10%, p=0.006) and at least 60 years old (34%/20%, p=0.006). In their activities regarding assessments of assisted dying requests over 12 months, we found a significant increase in the number of patients who did not meet the substantive requirements for assisted dying in 2019 compared with 2008 (1-4 patients: 41.1 %/58.8%, p=0.020). In their most recent assessments of an assisted dying request, LEIF consultants in 2019 made significantly more assessments of patients aged 80 years or older than in 2008 (31%/9%, p<0.001), and significantly fewer assessments for patients with cancer (53%/70%, p=0.034). Regarding adherence to quality criteria for consultation, LEIF consultants discussed unbearable suffering (87%/65%, p=0.003) and alternative treatments (palliative: 48 %/13%, p<0.001; curative: 28%/5%, p=0.002) significantly more often with the attending physician.

CONCLUSIONS: Changes in peer consultation practice and its quality among LEIF consultants likely reflect changes in assisted dying practice in general, as well as changes in LEIF consultations on more complex cases for which LEIF consultants' expertise is required.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)E1234-E1244
Aantal pagina's11
TijdschriftBMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Volume14
Nummer van het tijdschrifte1
Vroegere onlinedatum29 jun 2022
DOI's
StatusPublished - 1 mei 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2024. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

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