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Refused and granted requests for euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Netherlands: interview study with structured questionnaire

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7265.865 (Published 07 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:865
  1. Ilinka Haverkate (I.Haverkate.gpnh@med.vu.nl), psychologista,
  2. Bregje D Onwuteaka-Philipsen, researcherb,
  3. Agnes van der Heide, epidemiologistc,
  4. Piet J Kostense, statisticiand,
  5. Gerrit van der Wal, professorb,
  6. Paul J van der Maas, professorc
  1. a Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands
  2. b Department of Social Medicine, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,
  3. c Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Rotterdam, PO Box 1738, 3000 DK Rotterdam, Netherlands,
  4. d Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  1. Correspondence to: I Haverkate
  • Accepted 14 April 2000

In 1995, physicians in the Netherlands received 9700 explicit requests for euthanasia or physician assisted suicide, of which 37% were granted and carried out.1 Among the remaining requests, about half were refused by the physician; in the rest of the cases either the patient died before a decision had been reached or the physician's promise of help could be effected, or the patient withdrew the request.2 Knowledge of specific characteristics of refused and granted requests for euthanasia or physician assisted suicide may give insight into physicians' decision making and into the role of criteria for prudent practice. We therefore compared the characteristics of refused and granted requests.

Subjects, methods, and results

In 1995 and 1996, 405 Dutch physicians, randomly sampled nationwide and stratified by specialty and region, were interviewed by over 30 specifically trained and experienced physicians using a structured questionnaire. The response rate was …

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