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Commentary on 'Dying patients with cancer reflected on the implications of euthanasia'

Kelly, Daniel M. 2009. Commentary on 'Dying patients with cancer reflected on the implications of euthanasia'. Evidence Based Nursing 12 (2) , 63. 10.1136/ebn.12.2.63

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For some nurses caring for patients at the end of life, euthanasia is a difficult topic to consider objectively. It is also characterised by moral debates and strong emotional responses. The study by Eliott et al suggests that, whatever our views, patients are acutely aware of the extent of their own (and others’) suffering and can locate euthanasia within a larger moral view of what is best for them and society more generally. The importance of choice is emphasised and seems to be a central consideration when people are faced with suffering and impending death. However, ‘‘choice’’ is not as simple as it might first appear—it is subject to the moral judgements of others, and in this context, the choice to die has significant moral connotations that are sidelined by the emphasis on autonomy. It is also worth emphasising that those who are very ill possess, or may seek, the power to make choices about their daily routine or how they want to spend their remaining time. Nurses should be aware of the importance of facilitating such choices when possible and encouraging understanding of the meaning of suffering for patients and their families.1 Within the context of being listened to and understood, opportunities may emerge for understanding what is unspoken, such as when symptoms are controlled poorly, or disappointment when care is delivered in a less than desirable manner. Those who feel abandoned within their suffering may view euthanasia as a more attractive option than those who enjoy ‘‘a good death.’’2 Nurses caring for dying patients—whether from cancer or other conditions—may witness a patient’s attempt to retain their fighting spirit and sense of self despite the limitations of illness. Qualitative studies drawing on the experiences of people at the end of life help to move the debate beyond the theoretical and into the empirical.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Additional Information: Commentary on : Dying cancer patients talk about euthanasia Jaklin A. Eliotta, & Ian N. Olvera. Social Science & Medicine Volume 67, Issue 4, August 2008, Pages 647-656
Publisher: RCN Publishing
ISSN: 1367-6539
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:53

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