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Current debates on end-of-life sedation: an international expert elicitation study

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Current debates on end-of-life sedation : an international expert elicitation study. / Papavasiliou, Evie; Payne, Sheila; Brearley, Sarah.

In: Supportive Care in Cancer, Vol. 22, No. 8, 5, 01.08.2014, p. 2141-2149.

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@article{1cc00d7fea0c4622907ea69b61cc98ae,
title = "Current debates on end-of-life sedation: an international expert elicitation study",
abstract = "PurposeEnd-of-life sedation, though increasingly prevalent and widespread internationally, remains one of the most highly debated medical practices in the context of palliative medicine. This qualitative study aims to elicit and record the perspectives of leading international palliative care experts on current debates.MethodsTwenty-one professionals from diverse backgrounds, sharing field-specific knowledge/expertise defined by significant scholarly contribution on end-of-life sedation, were recruited. Open-ended, semi-structured interviews, following a topic-oriented structure reflecting on current debates, were conducted. Results were analysed using thematic content analysis.ResultsThree main aspects of sedation were identified and discussed as potentially problematic: (a) continuous deep sedation as an extreme facet of end-of-life sedation, (b) psycho-existential suffering as an ambivalent indication for sedation and (c) withdrawal or withholding of artificial nutrition and hydration as potentially life-shortening. On these grounds, concerns were reported over end-of-life sedation being morally equivalent to euthanasia. Considerable emphasis was placed on intentions as the distinguishing factor between end-of-life acts, and protective safeguards were introduced to distance sedation from euthanasia.ConclusionsThis study shows that, despite the safeguards introduced, certain aspects of sedation, including the intentions associated with the practice, are still under question, parallels being drawn between end-of-life sedation and euthanasia. This reaffirms the existence of a grey area surrounding the two practices, already evidenced in countries where euthanasia is legalized. More clarity over the issues that generate this grey area, with their causes being uncovered and eliminated, is imperative to resolve current debates and effectively inform research, policy and practice of end-of-life sedation.",
keywords = "End-of-life sedation , Palliative care experts, Artificial nutrition and hydration, Psycho-existential suffering , Grey area",
author = "Evie Papavasiliou and Sheila Payne and Sarah Brearley",
year = "2014",
month = aug,
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s00520-014-2200-9",
language = "English",
volume = "22",
pages = "2141--2149",
journal = "Supportive Care in Cancer",
issn = "0941-4355",
publisher = "Springer Verlag",
number = "8",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Current debates on end-of-life sedation

T2 - an international expert elicitation study

AU - Papavasiliou, Evie

AU - Payne, Sheila

AU - Brearley, Sarah

PY - 2014/8/1

Y1 - 2014/8/1

N2 - PurposeEnd-of-life sedation, though increasingly prevalent and widespread internationally, remains one of the most highly debated medical practices in the context of palliative medicine. This qualitative study aims to elicit and record the perspectives of leading international palliative care experts on current debates.MethodsTwenty-one professionals from diverse backgrounds, sharing field-specific knowledge/expertise defined by significant scholarly contribution on end-of-life sedation, were recruited. Open-ended, semi-structured interviews, following a topic-oriented structure reflecting on current debates, were conducted. Results were analysed using thematic content analysis.ResultsThree main aspects of sedation were identified and discussed as potentially problematic: (a) continuous deep sedation as an extreme facet of end-of-life sedation, (b) psycho-existential suffering as an ambivalent indication for sedation and (c) withdrawal or withholding of artificial nutrition and hydration as potentially life-shortening. On these grounds, concerns were reported over end-of-life sedation being morally equivalent to euthanasia. Considerable emphasis was placed on intentions as the distinguishing factor between end-of-life acts, and protective safeguards were introduced to distance sedation from euthanasia.ConclusionsThis study shows that, despite the safeguards introduced, certain aspects of sedation, including the intentions associated with the practice, are still under question, parallels being drawn between end-of-life sedation and euthanasia. This reaffirms the existence of a grey area surrounding the two practices, already evidenced in countries where euthanasia is legalized. More clarity over the issues that generate this grey area, with their causes being uncovered and eliminated, is imperative to resolve current debates and effectively inform research, policy and practice of end-of-life sedation.

AB - PurposeEnd-of-life sedation, though increasingly prevalent and widespread internationally, remains one of the most highly debated medical practices in the context of palliative medicine. This qualitative study aims to elicit and record the perspectives of leading international palliative care experts on current debates.MethodsTwenty-one professionals from diverse backgrounds, sharing field-specific knowledge/expertise defined by significant scholarly contribution on end-of-life sedation, were recruited. Open-ended, semi-structured interviews, following a topic-oriented structure reflecting on current debates, were conducted. Results were analysed using thematic content analysis.ResultsThree main aspects of sedation were identified and discussed as potentially problematic: (a) continuous deep sedation as an extreme facet of end-of-life sedation, (b) psycho-existential suffering as an ambivalent indication for sedation and (c) withdrawal or withholding of artificial nutrition and hydration as potentially life-shortening. On these grounds, concerns were reported over end-of-life sedation being morally equivalent to euthanasia. Considerable emphasis was placed on intentions as the distinguishing factor between end-of-life acts, and protective safeguards were introduced to distance sedation from euthanasia.ConclusionsThis study shows that, despite the safeguards introduced, certain aspects of sedation, including the intentions associated with the practice, are still under question, parallels being drawn between end-of-life sedation and euthanasia. This reaffirms the existence of a grey area surrounding the two practices, already evidenced in countries where euthanasia is legalized. More clarity over the issues that generate this grey area, with their causes being uncovered and eliminated, is imperative to resolve current debates and effectively inform research, policy and practice of end-of-life sedation.

KW - End-of-life sedation

KW - Palliative care experts

KW - Artificial nutrition and hydration

KW - Psycho-existential suffering

KW - Grey area

U2 - 10.1007/s00520-014-2200-9

DO - 10.1007/s00520-014-2200-9

M3 - Journal article

VL - 22

SP - 2141

EP - 2149

JO - Supportive Care in Cancer

JF - Supportive Care in Cancer

SN - 0941-4355

IS - 8

M1 - 5

ER -