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Previous literature has suggested that laws and regulations may impact the use of palliative sedation. Our present study compares the attitudes of French-speaking physicians practicing in the Quebec and Swiss environments, where different laws are in place regarding physician-assisted suicide.
Data were drawn from two prior studies, one by Blondeau and colleagues and another by Beauverd and coworkers, employing the same two-by-two experimental design with length of prognosis and type of suffering as independent variables. Both the effect of these variables and the effect of their interaction on Swiss and Quebec physicians' attitudes toward sedation were compared. The written comments of respondents were submitted to a qualitative content analysis and summarized in a comparative perspective.
The analysis of variance showed that only the type of suffering had an effect on physicians' attitudes toward sedation. The results of the Wilcoxon test indicated that the attitudes of physicians from Quebec and Switzerland tended to be different for two vignettes: long-term prognosis with existential suffering (p = 0.0577) and short-term prognosis with physical suffering (p = 0.0914). In both cases, the Swiss physicians were less prone to palliative sedation.
Significance of results:
The attitudes of physicians from Quebec and Switzerland toward palliative sedation, particularly regarding prognosis and type of suffering, seem similar. However, the results suggest that physicians from Quebec could be slightly more open to palliative sedation, even though most were not in favor of this practice as an answer to end-of-life existential suffering.
The philosophy underlying palliative care places the respect of patients and their autonomy at the heart of clinical practice. A study was conducted at a palliative care facility to document changes that occurred after the integration of a person-centered approach focusing on human freedom (which is linked to autonomy): the humanbecoming school of thought. It aimed to describe changes observed in the beliefs and practices of healthcare providers, the concept and respect of autonomy by healthcare providers, care and respect of autonomy experienced by patients' relatives, and consideration of patients' wishes through their documentation.
The method adopted consisted of a pre-project – process – post-project descriptive qualitative design and was inspired by teaching-learning and mentoring models. Data were collected from 51 healthcare providers and 10 relatives through semistructured interviews and from the medical records of 30 patients during the pre- and post-project phases. They were analyzed and compared at the end of the study. The process phase consisted of offering training sessions and mentoring, encouraging the involvement of healthcare providers, and cocreating integration and care tools.
While the analysis exposed some discrepancies with the language of the approach and differences between nurses and other healthcare providers, it revealed, above all, similarities in the changes observed between the different sources of data. The focus moved from being task-centered to being person-centered; the affirmation of the priority of respecting patients' choices, desires, and needs; a presence shifting from being available to true listening; the affirmation of following the ever-changing rhythm of the patient; and a notion of respect of autonomy now including the other.
Significance of results:
In line with the philosophy of palliative care, the project demonstrated that the integration of the humanbecoming approach can result in changes that contribute to the development of a more person-centered practice.
The induction of sedation at the end of life is a much debated practice and not very documented. The goal of this study was to explore the practice from both a clinical and ethical point of view.
Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 19 Quebec physicians working in palliative care.
Doctors' first priority was their patients, not patients' families. Clinically, the therapeutic aim of sedation was strictly to relieve suffering on the part of the patient. Ethically, getting the patient's consent was imperative. The family's consent was only required in cases of incapacity. Generally, sedation and euthanasia were seen as two distinct practices.
Significance of the research:
There are still very few guidelines regarding end-of-life sedation in Québec, and its normative framework is more implicit than explicit. It should be noted that most of the respondents regarded sedation and euthanasia as two distinct practices.
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