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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 61 (2019) 4, 248 - 256


Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for patients with psychiatric illnesses: opinions of residents in psychiatry

G.E.M. Penders, A. van Nispen tot Pannerden, G. van Loenen, S. van de Vathorst, F.M.M.A. van der Heijden

background In the Netherlands there is an increasing amount of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (eas) for patients with psychiatric illnesses. However, in recent years, psychiatrists have become more reluctant to assist with or apply eas. In 1995, 47% of psychiatrists were prepared to grant a request for eas, compared with 37% in 2016. In the literature various personal, medical and ethical arguments are mentioned for reluctance or willingness regarding eas.
aim To determine the point of view of residents in psychiatry about requests for eas, to gain insight into their arguments for being reluctant or willing regarding eas, and to determine their opinion on attention paid to eas during the medical training of a psychiatrist.
method A survey on eas was developed based on a literature study. Residents in psychiatry from the consortium Zuid-Nederland-Noord (znn) (n=78) were asked to complete this survey online.
results A total of 37 residents (47%) responded. Of these, most residents (73%) found it conceivable that they would grant a request for eas from a patient with psychiatric illness. Residents did not agree with the classical arguments for reluctance. The training of psychiatrists paid insufficient structural attention to eas.
conclusion This study shows that a majority of Dutch residents in psychiatry find it conceivable that they would grant a request for eas. According to these residents, more attention is warranted on eas in the medical training to psychiatrist.

keywords euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, psychiatric illness, residents, psychiatrists