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Attitudes and Experiences of Belgian Psychiatrists on Euthanasia Requests (pEAS)

Survey to study Belgian psychiatrists’ stance and practices regarding psychiatric euthanasia

Period

10-2018 to 09-2019

Abstract project

Background 

The euthanasia practice in psychiatric patients is highly controversial and reveals the main concerns tied to the euthanasia law. In recent years, various organizations and agencies (Flemish Association of Psychiatrists, Brothers of Charity, Zorgnet-ICURO, The Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics) have formulated guidelines and advice on dealing with euthanasia requests from psychiatric patients. Virtually nothing is known about the current euthanasia practice in this extremely vulnerable patient population, or how psychiatrists feel about the option of euthanasia in psychiatry. That is why it is important to gain insight into how many psychiatrists are confronted with such requests and how they deal with them.

Aims

The overarching research questions of this study are the following:

- To what extent do psychiatrists find euthanasia acceptable in psychiatric patients?

- What are the experiences of psychiatrists working in Belgium with euthanasia requests? How often are they confronted with this?

- In what way do psychiatrists working in Belgium deal with euthanasia requests? How does decision-making work, which procedures are followed, with which problems or concerns are they confronted during and after the euthanasia procedures and what are the outcomes of these procedures (accepted or rejected by the patient or euthanasia requests)?

Methods

This study will consist of a questionnaire survey (written and online) among all Belgian psychiatrists who are members of a Flemish, French or Belgian Association for Psychiatrists (n ~ 1000) (VVP | Flemish Association for Psychiatry; SRMMB | Société Royale de Médecine Mentale de Belgique).

Results

Results will be reported in the second half of 2019.

Funding

Federal Ministry of Social Affairs & Public Health / Research Foundation Flanders (PhD fellowship: 1162618N and research project: G017818N)

Project group

Promotor: Prof. Kenneth Chambaere
Co-Promotor: Prof. Kurt Audenaert
Project member: Prof. Luc Deliens
Researcher: Monica Verhofstadt

Advisory board members

Prof. Dirk De Bacquer
Prof. Piet Bracke
Prof. Freddy Mortier
Dr. Koen Titeca
Ad-hoc members Prof. Bregje Onwuteaka-Philipsen and Dr. Gjalt-Jorn Peters

Partners

Vlaamse Vereniging voor PsychiatrieSociété Royale de Médecine Mentale de Belgique