Objective: To evaluate attitudes of Europeans regarding end-of-life decisions.
Design and setting: Responses to a questionnaire by physicians and nurses working in ICUs, patients who survived ICU, and families of ICU patients in six European countries were compared for attitudes regarding quality and value of life, ICU treatments, active euthanasia, and place of treatment.
Measurements and results: Questionnaires were distributed to 4,389 individuals and completed by 1,899 (43%). Physicians (88%) and nurses (87%) found quality of life more important and value of life less important in their decisions for themselves than patients (51%) and families (63%). If diagnosed with a terminal illness, health professionals wanted fewer ICU admissions, uses of CPR, and ventilators (21%, 8%, 10%, respectively) than patients and families (58%, 49%, 44%, respectively). More physicians (79%) and nurses (61%) than patients (58%) and families (48%) preferred being home or in a hospice if they had a terminal illness with only a short time to live.
Conclusions: Quality of life was more important for physicians and nurses than patients and families. More medical professionals want fewer ICU treatments and prefer being home or in a hospice for a terminal illness than patients and families.