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Role and Involvement of Life End Information Forum Physicians in Euthanasia and Other End-of-Life Care Decisions in Flanders, Belgium

Authors

  • Yanna Van Wesemael,

    1. End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
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    • Address correspondence to Yanna Van Wesemael, M.A., End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, Belgium; e-mail: yvwesema@vub.ac.be. Joachim Cohen, Ph.D., Johan Bilsen, Ph.D., and Luc Deliens, Ph.D., are with the End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium. Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Ph.D., and Luc Deliens, Ph.D., are with the Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Expertise Center for Palliative Care, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Wim Distelmans, M.D., Ph.D., is with the Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Supportive & Palliative Care, Brussels, Belgium.

  • Joachim Cohen,

    1. End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
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  • Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen,

    1. Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Expertise Center for Palliative Care, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Johan Bilsen,

    1. End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
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  • Wim Distelmans,

    1. Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Supportive & Palliative Care, Brussels, Belgium.
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  • Luc Deliens

    1. End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
    2. Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Expertise Center for Palliative Care, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Abstract

Objective. To describe role and involvement of Life End Information Forum (LEIF) physicians in end-of-life care decisions and euthanasia in Flanders.

Study Design. All 132 LEIF physicians in Belgium received a questionnaire inquiring about their activities in the past year, and their end-of-life care training and experience.

Principal Findings. Response rate was 75 percent. Most respondents followed substantive training in end-of-life care. In 1 year, LEIF physicians were contacted 612 times for consultations in end-of-life decisions, of which 355 concerned euthanasia requests eventually resulting in 221 euthanasia cases. LEIF physicians also gave information about various end-of-life issues (including palliative care) to patients and colleagues.

Conclusions. LEIF physicians provide a forum for information and advice for physicians and patients. A similar health service providing support to physicians for all end-of-life decisions could also be beneficial for countries without a euthanasia law.

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